Remembrance 4 Years Later
I realize that many on the planet have moved on. After all, other countries have suffered many such losses of their fellow citizens as we had, many times over, through constant warfare, instability, and genocide. But this is our tragedy. And those were our citizens.
When I was younger and less wise, I used to look at the world through a Star Trek utopian idealism. I placed my loyalty to the human race over my loyalty to my fellow countrymen. I don't know if that makes sense. In an ideal world, the boundaries that separate people and nations from one another should just dissolve. We are, after all, brothers of mankind. But the problem is, we do not live in an ideal world. So long as there are corrupt regimes, communist nations, and dictatorships, it is far better for the human race if my loyalties to America come first. What is good for my country, I believe, is good for the world. That may sound arrogant. But after reading Jean Francois Revel's "Anti-Americanism", I feel like a veil has been lifted from my eyes and I see that all the blame-America and self-guilt we have been brainwashed into believing in....is misguided at best. Throughout my schooling, I've been taught to be ashamed of America for enslaving blacks, for continuing to "keep them down", for the genocide of native Americans, for the persecution of other minority groups including the imprisonment of Japanese-Americans into concentration camps (accurate, but not a good choice of connatative wording, considering what the Jews went through under the Nazis); and it continues on into today, in the 21st century. We are told the rest of the world hates us. And we worry about it. We wring our hands over it.
As Jean Francois Revel puts it, America's seeming unilateralism, is due to the rest of the world having failed in our collective, global security. It is America who stands between the civilized world and those who wish to obliterate it.
When university students protest violently against U.S. presence in South Korea, it is utterly mind-boggling that these Korean idealist know-it-alls live in such ignorance of their own history. I can only chalk it up to them having the same brainwashing liberal professors in their schools as we have in our own. Liberal professors who do nothing but theorize and conjecture and are absolutely removed from what has actually worked in the real world. The European model of socialism has been a disaster for Europe. And still...they refuse to listen to facts.
That rant was a bit unexpected. What I really want to talk about, of course, is 9/11.
(Click on the photo)
Credit to PebblePie.
None of us should ever forget; nor allow the memory of that day ever to fade into a faint scar. Should that happen, you should take a knife to it and make fresh the wound....the anger....the loss. I don't ever want that pain to diminish so long as the task of defeating terrorism remains unfinished. Sounds like an impossibility, you say, defeating an ideal? A way of thinking? If you believe that, then you are already defeated.
I wrote the following post on a message board I frequent, back on September 11, 2003:
9/11 Respects and Remembrances
I don't want this to turn into a political debate and I don't mean to get everyone down, but I just felt this was something important to post; something important to me.
Yesterday I was listening to the radio on my drive from work, and the talker was describing an experience of digging through the Twin Towers rubble and finding the body of an adult clutching onto a child's hand...that's all that was there was the child's hand holding hands with the adult; no body. It shook me back to the reality of it all and I felt the tears blur my vision as I was driving. Until then, I hadn't really thought of the "anniversary" of 9/11. It's not like it was a year later. Many Americans, myself included, seem to have short attention spans.
It's important we get on with our lives, but it's also important that we, especially those of us in the United States, not forget. Especially on this day, let's take the time to honor those who fell.
I knew a guy named Ron Gamboa. He traveled with his male companion and their three year old adopted son on the second plane to hit the Towers. He had gone on a weekend trip; a vacation he didn't even want to be on. And just like that, he is gone. I remember the following week of the tragedy, the cover of the TV Guide was a photo of the moment the second plane hit; and all I could think of was that I was staring at the moment of death of someone I know, as it happened.
I don't cry often. In fact, I cry very rarely. But when I think of Ron and his 3 year old....when I think of the image of that little child's hand without a body clutching the hand of the adult's... I feel the tears well up inside like a tidal wave. Personally, I hope those tears will always flow fresh and painful on 9/11 so that I am reminded of what was lost and reminded about how much I love my country.
Was it the poet Dunne, who said, "Every man's death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind"?
Anyway, I had to let this out. I hope everyone takes a moment out of the day to reflect. God bless those we lost, those who serve, and God bless us all...not just in the US, but all over the world.
(Click the Photo)
And in a mass e-mail that same year, I sent this out to my friends and even to just anyone in my address book who I thought might care even one iota to take pause and listen (some of it reads, essentially the same as what I wrote in that post to the message board):
It's 2:49am as I write. Can't sleep.
Yesterday while driving from the gym, a person on the radio was describing how sifting through the rubble of the Twin Towers, he found an adult body; and in one hand, the adult was clutching the tiny hand of a child....there was no body of the child; just the child's hand. That image shook me back to the reality and horror of that day. The tears blurred my vision as I drove home.
I knew Ron Gamboa. Ron was on a weekend vacation trip he didn't even want to go on. He traveled with his male companion and their 3 year old adopted son. All three perished on the second plane to hit the Towers.
When I think of Ron and his 3 year old...the image of the tiny hand holding hands with the adult's...and when I think of all those who are no longer with us, but should be with us...and those who have had to go on in their absence...it brings back a flood of tears.
The week after the tragedy, I picked up the TV guide and took pause. I looked down at the cover as I dropped it on the counter to pay for it. The cover was a photo of the exact moment the second plane hit the Tower. I was looking at the moment of death of someone I knew; a picture of him being murdered in grand fashion.
I hope this pain never diminishes in me. Not on this day. I want to remember vividly so that I can cherish the moments I have with everyone around me.
On this day, we have nothing to apologize to the rest of the world about.
God bless those who fell; those who have survived on in their absence; those who serve and defend; and those who proudly and unashamedly call themselves Americans. God bless us all.
This is basically two photos showing the moment someone I knew was murdered in senseless, wasteful violence. I cannot fathom what he and his loved ones were going through. Again, his son was only 3!!!
One final tribute....here are thoughts I wrote out, just minutes ago to add (and which I submitted for the remembrance site linked to Ron's picture up above):
I worked with Ron. I knew him when I was a security specialist for the Gap, and he was a manager for another Gap store. When I stepped down to a lead cashier position at the Wilshire Gap, I saw many managers come and go. Eventually, Ron was assigned to my store. I can't say that we had a lot in common or even that we carried on a lot of conversations that weren't work related. But I remember his humor and his respect of me and what I brought to his store; especially, taking into consideration, my previous experience helping the company in the loss prevention department. One personal conversation I do remember having with him, though, is him inquiring and wanting information on gymnastics for his son. He seemed quite serious about it. I taught at a gymnastics club, and brought him a brochure from the gym.
I remember the last time I saw Ron. I think I treated him a bit harshly over something or other. I didn't realize that it would be the last time I would ever see him.
Tuesday, Sept 11th, came and went. I only worked part-time for the Gap, and hadn't been there since the weekend, if memory serves. Apparently the store didn't have my current telephone number (a constant problem for I don't know how long!). Thursday evening, on the news, I heard a mention of "Ron Gamboa" and it was the first I heard about his death. I couldn't believe it. I went into work the next day, and for someone who is known for having a calm and collected personality, I was quite upset and some of my anger spilled over at the staff for not letting me know; for not contacting me about it. I think there was a 12 noon prayer service at the church down the street; maybe it was a national moment of prayer. I remember being numb and going through the motions of it all.
A tree outside the front of the store became the focal point of everyone's grief and condolences. Cards, flowers and candles held vigil over the store there. I remember wandering out to that spot in the middle of the night for no reason other than to weep and stare in silence. Sometimes others would be there. Some that I knew. Some that stopped by were absolute strangers, but bereaved as fellow Americans and as fellow human beings.
Some time later, and a year later as well, we had a Memorial service at the store. It was hard for me. I keep things bottled in and hold back from sharing my grief, other than privately.
My favorite picture.
"If there must be trouble let it be in my day, that my child may have peace."
One of the most moving tributes: The Blood of Heroes. Nothing chills me with the searing memory of that day than this piece of work. It makes it personal.
Sometimes when I hear about another death, another tragedy....I am strangely detached. But 9-11....those deaths and that tragedy brings pain to my soul as though I had suffered the loss of members of my own family. And that's as it should be.
Peace and grace to my fellow Americans as we mourn our fallen brethren. Love and mercy to all who have sacrificed, great and small, for the good of this Nation. God forever bless America, Land of the Free.....Home of the Brave.
"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."- Thomas Jefferson