Sunday, September 11, 2011

My Place: September 11, 2001

Today has many purposes....  the memory of many lost, the Ethiopian New Year (see next post).... I want to briefly talk about teaching about hate....

We all have our "place".....the place where we were when the planes hit.... like people did when JFK died.  I was sitting in the lobby area of the Preston Center at Western Kentucky University.  I was getting ready to start my weight lifting class with my now best friend Emily Godbey Fox and we watched the second plane crash into the tower.  Only a year and a half earlier I was in NYC for the first time for a chorus trip (I don't sing; I just love to travel).  We had stayed at the Marriott....address: 3 World Trade Center, New York, New York.  I was only seventeen at the time.  Fast forward to watching the towers tumble.  At eighteen, a college freshman, I could not fathom the magnitude of the loss.  I knew it was bad...  I knew it was sad....I knew it was devastating for our country.  I still have our college newspaper from that day.  I went to prayer services.  We discussed the Muslim religion in my Religion 201 course.  But like everyone else who did not lose a loved one or friend, I moved on.  It was not until I moved to New York City in 2007 that it really it home.  It was not walking amongst Ground Zero or the church that still stands.  It was meeting my patient....a man who had a lung resection because of cancer.... Cancer he developed after going into Ground Zero for 17 days to cut wires to decrease the electricity.  Or my friend who was an EMT.....he had just finished his night shift and was heading across the George Washington Bridge...too far away to help his colleagues.  Or my rotation at Bronx Lebanon Hospital and having the nurses show me the spot from the 16th floor where they watched it all happen.  Or visiting a loft turned museum in Tribeca ....the photographer was the one hired by FDNY to photograph the cleanup....a piece of the plane sat in his loft.  The stories he had were not really stomach-able but real.  There is a big difference between 18 years old and 25 years old...It was then I realized the depth of the pain from that day.  It was then I realized the depth of hatred it took to do something of this caliber. 

Today, Tedi, my four and a half year son, glanced at the TV and asked why there was so much smoke.  I tried to explain to him in simple terms that some mean people flew big, big airplanes into the tall buildings where boys' and girls' mommies and daddies worked and how this is not nice or what Jesus wants us to do to others.  He asked "so their mommies and daddies died?"  Broke my heart. Yes, they died.  We talked about it simply a couple of times and I think he understood on his level.  BUT here is the real question.  How do we teach our children about hate? And how to overcome it and not be part of it?  We must, but how?  A question I can not answer right now but definitely food for thought on a day like today.

My friend Lee Ann posted this pictures on facebook today from our NYC trip in April 2000.
You probably can't find my 17 year old self but this is taken from the Statue of Liberty.

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