Wednesday, September 14, 2011

9/11 Remembrance

I remember where I was when 9/11 happened. I was a junior in high school. I was in Mr. Burnett's second period history class taking a current events quiz. Mr. Fortune burst into the room and said, "Mr. Burnett, what are you doing in here?" He said, "Current events." Mr. Fortune replied, "Well you'd better turn on the TV because there's a current event going on right now!" When he turned it on, I was bewildered by the sight of the World Trade Center towers with smoke coming out of one. Eventually, the bell rang. By the time I arrived at third period A Capella Choir, a second plane had crashed into the second tower. Mr. Guiliano led us in singing "America the Beautiful" and then told us to sit, talk, and pray. Mercifully, my other teachers that morning actually taught class. The TV monitors in every room and all over the school, that were used as clocks, were all tunes to the news. When I got to lunch, the footage had changed. People were throwing themselves out of the Towers and into the street. I threw my nachos away untouched.

That evening, after praise band practice, I was looking at the Times-Gazette and talking to my mom while she made dinner. I asked her, "What's the use of doing something like that? I mean, bombing people? I don't see the point." My mom said, "I don't see the point either." I said, "I don't see a point to guns or bombing or anything that kills people. I guess I don't believe in killing people." Mom agreed. That day, in our kitchen, I became a pacifist.

 photo credit: Denise Gould

9/11 was a life-changing experience for me, as it was for so many of us. Last Sunday, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of September 11th, Harvard-Epworth invited a special guest to come. Pastor Scott talked about the pain that Bostonians felt that day. I had forgotten until that day that the flights into JFK that crashed into the Towers came from Boston Logan. People in this area lost their loved ones who had been on those flights. The guest that Pastor Scott, and, I learned, my good friend Lane had invited to church was  Mr. Izhar Khazmi, a lay person from the largest mosque in Boston. I expected him to talk about something profound and spiritual, but he didn't. He just talked about what it was like for him and his family, who had come with him, on 9/11. He talked about how he works in Boston's financial district, and how the FBI had come to his office to interrogate him because he is Middle Eastern and Muslim. He said that was the only difficult thing he experienced at the time, and that his coworkers and friends were very supportive of him during that time. His son and wife talked about how grateful they are for the support of their neighbors, and how wonderful it is to be American. They said they were a little nervous about coming to a Christian church, but they were very glad they came and very glad to meet us. Mr. Khazmi's son is a BU student, like I was, and he was glad to meet me at coffee hour.

In a sense, it was a pretty extraordinary morning because it was a time of remembrance and interfaith learning and sharing. In another sense, it was pretty ordinary. We worshiped, sang, ate, asked questions, and met new friends. Just like any other Sunday. And then we all went back to our homes and took Sunday afternoon naps. I feel very fortunate that, 10 years after 9/11, we had such an "ordinary" Sunday. We have homes and places to nap. We have food and friends. 10 years later, we still have each other, we still have our safety, and we still have our country. It is still good to be American, as Mr. Khazmi reminded us. We have a lot for which to be thankful this week. It is time to remember, to love one another, and to forgive.

Where were you on September 11th, 2011? How have you remembered it this week?

No comments:

Post a Comment