I almost neglected to write this post... because remembering September 11th, 2001 depresses me. But as I read my post from The Song of These Streets on September 11th, 2009, I figured writing out my feelings might help me, and so here I go on a journey of honesty:
Ten years later, I still cry during the news clips of the Twin Towers in the midst of their doom, which remind me of the museum photos of small figures jumping to escape flames, of the front covers of newspapers featuring people covered in white ash and blood, of my own pictures of the Lower East Side's streets empty of people or cars and the skies full of military jets and helicopters. In remembering these moments, I feel a great sense of sadness for the grand loss of life that day: the deaths of almost 3,000 people (mothers, daughters, fathers, brothers, uncles, friends, spouses, cousins...) as well as the loss of life as I knew it.
Sometimes, it still astounds me how much my world has altered as a result of September 11, 2001. At the same time that people pulled together to pray, conduct search and rescue operations, tend to the wounded, house those who were suddenly homeless and support grieving families, our nation as a whole and local communities instantly divided into "patriotic" Americans versus Muslims and Arabs. Many Yemeni-owned stores were forced to shut their doors against angry patrons on the day and in the ones that followed; and a decade later, Muslim Arab workers continue to be harassed by customers and insulted because of their heritage (I have watched this happen time and time again). Racial profiling in airports and highways became widely accepted as the "right" course of action to prevent possible terrorism; and people turned out in droves to protest the building of mosques and Islamic cultural centers.
Such acts of prejudice which parade around my community under the guise of patriotism deeply troubled me ten years ago; but now a new layer of worry has laid upon my heart because of my son. Equis is bi-ethnic, as in Yemeni and Puerto Rican; and I worry that he will be judged through intolerant eyes. So as this day passes, I think not only of the past and the many precious lives we lost in 2001, but of the future and what it holds for my son and all the children who will have no memories of September 11th except for what they hear from their parents or on T.V. or read in their history books. I want our children to carry a torch of pride for their country even as they remain accepting of different cultures and religions.
I know that hatred will always exist; but I have to continually ask myself, how can I raise my son to be different? I wish the world were different; I wish September 11th, 2001 had never happened and the Twin Towers were not now Twin Lights; and most of all, I wish that we will continually choose love over darkness throughout our lifetimes.
I pray peace and comfort for all those who suffered as a result of the attacks across the nation on that day.