Is it September already? My sabbatical seems to have lasted longer than I'd planned. But that's what happens when life comes at you fast and you need to shed a little baggage. I've missed this arena, however, and am glad to be back.
It also looks like my timing coincides directly with the 10th anniversary of one of the most devastating tragedies in American history. And because I can't keep my mouth shut, I feel obligated to give it a mention.
There's not much new I can bring to the table on this subject. Much has been written since that day; many heartbreaking and grim images have appeared in every form of media. Essays, blogs, articles and books have been written by and about survivors and how the event forever changed lives. Even today, when I relay certain stories or hear new ones, my emotions get the better of me and I get choked up.
And this is one occasion in our lifetimes in which we'll remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard the devastating news.
I remember not only that day, but the day before - September 10, 2001. On that evening, my husband and I attended a fundraising dinner for the Salvation Army. I was on the advisory board at the time and had invested a lot of time and effort to help pull the dinner together. The keynote speaker was Sacramento newsman Stan Atkinson, who gave a compelling speech about his time reporting news in dangerous countries - including Afghanistan. It was interesting and entertaining. Following his well-rehearsed and polished speech were testimonials of various individuals who had improved their lives having been through the Salvation Army's rehabilitation programs. These were not seasoned veterans in front of an audience, but they spoke from the heart and were grateful for the opportunity to tell their tales. All in all, I left that evening feeling pretty good about the world and my small part in helping to make it a little bit better.
Then on Tuesday morning it all changed. I don't have to repeat the story. It's been a long time, but the memory doesn't fade. The thing that struck me, as well as many Americans, is how we came together after this attack on our country. There was a spirit of patriotism and unity not seen in our nation in a very long time. People became more compassionate and aware. Political party lines were blurred by the common love for our country. It lasted for quite a while. Memorials were held; benefits created on the spur of the moment to help affected families; we wore our hearts on our sleeves and held on tighter to our families and friends.
But time passed. The images slowly disappeared from daily media sources. People got back to their lives, but now with a bit more insecurity. Our nation updated us daily on the terrorist rating and before long people were just irritated with the whole mess. Air travel became less bearable; some citizens looked at their ethnic neighbors with wariness. All the patriotism and unity that enveloped the country right after 911 turned to mistrust and paranoia. Along comes a major recession and people are angry again. Political parties are so deeply divided that the overall health and well-being of the nation is overshadowed by a bureaucratic pissing contest.
Like I previously mentioned ... I'm not bringing anything new to the 911 discussion table. I just wish it didn't take a national disaster to reinforce our sense of patriotism and unity.
That said, I'll say a prayer and raise a glass in honor of the victims of 911 and their families. I hope you'll do the same. Our country could use a little salvation right about now.