Sept. 12, 2002
Let's roll. We will never forget. The words and phrases that summon images of Sept. 11 are simple. An exhortation, a declaration. An act of heroism. A pledge.
The television images of grief returned Wednesday. The emotions are less raw now. We see we will get through this, but we are not through yet.
We must move on. That is another Sept. 11 pep talk. But we aren't quite ready to move on. As a nation, we were wounded as only Americans who were alive Dec. 7, 1941, remember being wounded. We were surprised by the savagery of the assault and the depth of the hatred for us surprised.
If this can happen then what is impossible? DC worries about that most of all. She has assembled emergency supplies that could be helpful in case of an earthquake or some biological catastrophe. It makes her feel better.
DC is just as reassured by the moonflowers that grow near our house. They bloom at night and emit a fragrance that reminds her of Hawaii.
The Sufi mystic Rumi wrote:
"Flowers open every night across the sky
as the peace of keeping a vigil
kindles the emptiness."
I am less worried about the means of terrorists than about the hatred that motivates them. Hearing Secretary of State Colin Powell talk about the need for America to continue to be an example of openness and freedom to the rest of the world is encouraging.
It's not as some leaders have said, that the terrorists hate our freedom. They hate our allegiance to Israel and what they believe to be the Godlessness of our culture.
They hate us because we are the biggest and strongest kid on the playground. They hate us because occasionally we act like a bully.
I used to think evil didn't exist. I thought evil was just the absence of love, a kind of vacuum or void that needed to be filled. I still think that's true, but after Sept. 11 it's hard to deny evil exists. It exists in the degrees of our separation from God.
"Stars burn clear all night till dawn.
Do that yourself, and a spring will rise in the dark
with water your deepest thirst is for."
There is little poetry in the phrases of Sept. 11. It's still difficult to find words for these feelings. We are still stunned, incredulous, wishing for a flood of understanding to wash the world clean again. We search for deliverance and evidence of hope.
Amid all the remembrances that that horrific day, it was somehow reassuring Wednesday to watch the SEMO District Fair Parade on Broadway. The high school bands strutted by, people on the sidelines clapped and the floats. We were in the China Palace restaurant and watched the excitement as the restaurant's own float went past. The owner, John Cai, brought 12 of his relatives to America from Shoaxing, China. They are immigrants who love America.
That describes most of us.
We are rolling. Little by little, the pain is diffused. But how could we ever forget?
Sam Blackwell is a staff writer for the Southeast Missourian.