Friday, September 14, 2007

Feeling Guilty

You know, I feel a bit guilty about 9-11. Not that I had anything to do with the terrorist activities associated with 9-11. Not that at all.1

I remember watching a lot of coverage, and many people called the people in the twin towers heroes. And there were heroes in the twin towers that day, but just because you were working on a floor and were killed, it does not make you an automatic hero.

Many people who were killed that day were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Most who were killed did not wake up in the morning and say they would sacrifice themselves for others.

I remember hearing about a priest who arrived on the scene to give comfort to the injured and dying. Someone who jumped off the building hit him, killing him (the jumper, of course, would have died, no matter what happened). Now I am not saying the jumper tried to kill the priest . . . . That was not the point. But the priest was a hero. He ran towards a dangerous situation, not retreating from it.

People say there were 3,000 heroes2 that died that day. Now, a bunch of people died, but not all of them were heroes. And I think of that every time I hear that. I don't know if I would be a hero – if I were on the United Flight 93, from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco, California, I don't know what I would have done that day.

I am not saying that we should not mourn for the people who died on that day. Even on YouTube, there has been a lot on death lately. A video here and there. And I added to the clutter by writing about it as well.

Getting back to my guilt. Since I am Catholic, I know a lot about guilt.

I remember 9-11 like it was yesterday.3 I remember what I was doing when I found out the planes hit the World Trade Center. I listened in horror as newscasters explained what they were seeing, and we got a very incomplete picture of what was going on. I remember hearing that all flights were grounded – that there were still, as one point, eight unaccounted for aircraft. I remember hearing stories of the first victims, and I remember thinking, "I will always value my friends and family more now."

And you know what, over time, I forgot about that promise. I had resolved to do things differently. And, over time, much like people in Congress, I forgot about my resolve.

So on 9-11, I think about some heroes, wonder why we use the word so freely, and remember that I once resolved to make some changes in my life. Yeah, I know many people have written eloquently about 9-11. Me, I wanted to wait a few days. Because of the guilt, I suppose, plus I wanted give people the chance to remember 9-11 without my unnatural thoughts entering the day.

One thing on 9-11 that I did find disturbing – I was listening to the radio, and there was a moment of silence. Well, the moment of silence lasted about three seconds. Either the announcer that was reading skipped the directions (pause for one minute), or the radio station did not want dead air or was cheap. No matter what the case, having that moment (3 seconds) of silence did not seem to meet the spirit of what a moment of silence is for.

<--- Insert prosaic and philosophical closing here. Perhaps steal it from Jay Leno show. --->

1I think I have unwittingly made it on to someone's watch list. In 24 hours, I am sure my phone will be bugged, and the next time I go to the airport, I will get pulled over to do the body cavity search. Do they really do the body cavity search in real life? That's just in Wayne's World movies, right?

2Well, a good estimate is 2,996 dead. Not sure if that is the right number, but it is a reasonable number.

3Some are saying, hey, it was only a few days ago. Yeah, funny man, get your own blog. Actually, I was referring to 9/11/2001.


Prata said...

Please define 'a moment'. Nevermind, I'll define it for you. An indefinite interval of time. It means there is no set time frame here. Now if they changed the meaning of moment since I last checked, there's nothing to be concerned about. Minute is different from moment and really, why are we concerned about such trivialities?

Why must media pay homage to this event in the first place? Again, how many moments of silence do we as a society take for the still born deaths and the just as tragic addiction deaths? How many moments of silence a year are these apparently less important deaths getting?

Fact of the matter is, 9/11 victims aren't any more important than some child dying of brain cancer, or some South African mother dying from HIV. They are all equally important, but they aren't treated as equally important. That's not fair. It's truly not, and I believe anyone that takes a step back and really examines the worth of a human life and not the EVENT it becomes crystal clear how bias this sort of thing is.

I don't see you (this is not angry and accusatory lol no matter how it comes across) complaining about moments of silence for any of the innocent people murdered over in Iraq by marines. Or children raped etc, etc. I mean we really need to be equal here if we're talking about the spirit of things. What about the spirit of humanity? I don't see much of that going around especially in the media.

I'm rambling I guess and I'm sorry. One last thing though. I liked your post. ^_^

Anonymous Boxer said...

I wore my American Flag pin for a year and then stored in a drawer... I found it the other day and found myself lost in thought. This post reminds me of a lot of things I promised myself six years ago. Good post.

LarryLilly said...

Humans have to make our lot in life seem MUCH bigger than it really is. Yes, we use the term "hero" so easily.

The firefighters were hero's, but the man and woman that decided to jump out of the building to avoid being burned to death, they were ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. They just did what seemed like the best way to end it all. Hero's, no, courageous yes.

mal said...

This week I intentionally did not post about 9-11. It was partly due to my own angst ridden posts this week but more because I can add nothing meaningful.

You are so correct in pointing out that there were victims and Heroes here. The Heroes were those that were in a position to act and did so.

In my mind the largest of the day were the 84 passengers of Flight 93. I hope that if faced with same question, I have the same courage to answer it with. Those 84 have done more for airline security than all the TSA frolics that has gone on since.

Excellent post

WAT said...

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Wow, what an insightful post. Truly. I guess I feel that too much attention is given to 9/11 due to the shocking circumstances, and I also have a cynical side that says some of these people that died there (hero or not) must not have been very nice people at all in their daily lives, like some of my co-workers right now.

But who am I to judge? They all had loved ones right?

Advizor said...

I feel guilty that I don't feel sad enough.

I was on the West Coast when it happened, and, to this day, it doesn't quite seem real. I thought about going to Ground Zero to make it real, so that I could care more at a visceral level, to really feel it in my bones.

But I never did. I've seen the footage a thousand times. I've read all of the conspiracy literature and I follow the politics of the war in Iraq.

But still I find something missing. that really deep-seated empathy, that sense of outrage that fuels so many people on this issue.

I don't think Californians, anyone west of the Mississippi really, have that special connection to New York like east-coaster have. The center of my universe is LA, not NY, and the emotional connection just isn't there.

Maybe that makes me a heartless person, but that's how I feel.

And that is why I feel guilty on 9/11

Black Jack Bauer said...

Good post. I remember buying my first flag after 9-11. I remember thinking how proud I am to be an American and how I promised that I would never use "dividers" to define myself any more. By dividers I mean those "PC" descriptions we like to use like "African-American". Once 9-11 happened I chose to be more united with this great country of ours.

I had never thought about the whole "hero" factor. I'd be curious to read a post of your thoughts on what defines a hero.

Jason said...

Regardless it's not forgetting what happened that day is what counts.

Leesa said...

prata: concerning "moment." Well, I have heard a "moment of silence," and they did do something that fit the definition. But the pause was such that one would make between two sentences. Did not seem like much of a pause, much less a moment.

And, you know, I even think morning for the "guilty people" would be okay. Why not mourn their deaths as well?

boxer: similarly, we make promises at milestones in life and rarely make good on the promises.

larry: well said.

mal: I nearly did not publish this post.

wat: nice people die each and every day. Part of me wonders why being in the wrong place at the wrong time on 9/11 makes your life more valuable.

advizor: I sort of thought many people discounted the lives in the Pentagon, like they were soldiers, airmen, sailers. It was more okay that they died.

omar: wow, a hero post. Hmmmmmmmm.

jason: good point.

Advizor said...

I never meant to discount the lives of anyone, especially the men and women at the Pentagon. I have the greatest respect for those who choose to serve our country as a career. I have no patience for people who say that the people in the military "deserve" what they get because they signed up.

Everyone who enjoys the freedom to write a blog, read a book, or worship at the church of their choice should sent a thank you note to our military.

We may have leaders making bad decisions on their behalf, but I regret and mourn the loss of every soldier. They are the ones that I have the most sympathy for, they are the ones who make heroic choices.

As 9/11 has passed and I wrote my note above in this chain, I've been thinking about all those we lost on that horrible day and all the death and sadness that it unleashed on the world.

Now, as I see our nation's leaders argue and criticize and snipe at and with each other over who's to blame, the common soldier, the man on the ground pays the ultimate price with alarming frequency.

All who die in war are not heroes, but all who fight for me, my family, and my freedoms, are heroes in my book.