On the ten-year date of September 11, I would like to offer my thoughts as a “Non-American” living in America.
We all know where we were, I am no different. I was at work and while we had Internet, were not allowed to use it. This was monitored and enforced strictly. The whole work-environment was not very friendly in general (I was laid off years later). I remember someone coming up to my desk and saying someone had flown something into the Pentagon. I guess they had heard it on the radio.
I just shrugged and went back to work because as always, I tried to be the good employee who did not engage in gossip etc. However, as time wore on the buzz could not be denied and more and more our awareness of the events unfolded. I finally gave in and went on-line to see what was going on. From there, no one got any work done and being reprimanded for going on-line was the last of our worries. I just remember feeling numb and having that irresistible urge to display an American flag.
After work, I remember having to stop at the store. I never forget this. People were walking around like zombies, and this one man’s eyes and mine met. I will never forget the expression in his face. We never spoke, never knew who the other was, but in that moment we were connected. I cannot set words to the expression, the closest I have seen anything to compare to it was on the faces of those on TV that day. I did get a flag eventually (not on the same day as all were bought up) and it is still on my car.
That night, I remember the feeling of foreboding what this meant for the USA and the world in the years to come – as far as the economy, the impact, and impending war. I could not sleep in this wave of despair. But, even as restless as I was about the things to come, they turned out even worse in my case and in general
Ten Years Later
I was nervous, I did not know what to expect as far as feelings go. I live in Richmond and the NASCAR race just happens to fall on this weekend, so does my daughter’s birthday. NASCAR, while it has a redneck reputation, is also a very patriotic event every week.
Well, the commemorations during yesterday’s race were so thoughtful and emotional, it is hard to put into words. They opened with God bless America in addition to the Anthem. However, what got me the most (I already had goose bumps from that) was that during laps nine through eleven they asked for silence. Good luck getting over 100,000 people to be silent when we can’t even get along, I thought.
Well, without fail every last person was standing up holding an American flag in total silence, expressions on their faces akin to the man I saw ten years ago in the store, with only the engines of the cars sounding off as they drove by under caution. I get chills as I type this even. I was glad it was only two laps in a way and that I was only watching on TV, because if this would have gone on any longer I would have had tears streaming down my face. Tears of what? I do not know. I would say patriotism, but I do not have an American birth certificate.