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Dialing 9-11

I remember like it was yesterday. Except.

So many ways to go with that. I remember being two or three years old and thinking that I had a hard time remembering things that had just happened about a day ago, but that I could remember things from further back really easily. So I guess remembering "yesterday" hazily is nothing new to me.

Anyway, like it was yesterday I remember my best friend telling me about his grandmother's reaction to the new emergency number you could dial: Where's the eleven? How am I going to dial nine eleven on my phone without an eleven?

Like it was yesterday I remember my wife (new! not yet 18 months married!) waking me up to tell me someone had flown an airplane into the World Trade Center and wondering what the damn big deal was, OK so some clown took his commuter plane and cracked it up. Little did I know it was a commercial airliner, and it had been done intentionally, and it was about to be repeated.

We had a baby newer than our marriage. Not even 9 months old, he was. We knew it was a dangerous world when we decided to bring him into it, and we knew it wasn't any less dangerous when we decided to bring his little brother in, too.

I wish I could say "it all changed in that instant" but I know I would be lying.

Not a damn thing changed in that instant except for the fact that we had an awareness level that had magically expanded. This crap, all these different viewpoints, the rhetoric, the not-so-veiled threats ... it wasn't just ignorable background, anymore, and it had come to tell us personally.

The world today is in so very many ways the same as it was about a quarter of a century ago. In 1987 we had "Black Monday", and that of course was after a few S&L's had to get bailed out, and there have always been economic downturns followed by the resumption of business as usual.

There's always been somebody to be The Bad Guy.

In the weeks following that dreadful incident, the country rallied like it hadn't in some few decades. Broadcast television did something unprecedented for what wasn't an overtly political "scheduled" event -- this wasn't election season, we didn't have the "State of the Union" or some debate. Yes, it was unquestionably political in nature, but it was also star-studded and it was simulcast on all networks nationwide. It was a retrospective and a concert they called "America: A Tribute to Heroes".

My (newish) wife and I sat, along with much of the country, and watched it, subdued and vaguely awed. Some performances were a bit rocky, but many of them were much needed and entirely well received. After a while, we turned to one another and said, "If this comes out on DVD, we're buying it." After Neil Young came onstage and sang John Lennon's "Imagine", we decided we'd pay $100 for it if we had to.

The DVD came out. We bought it, for about $25. It's sitting on a shelf, we've watched it maybe once. The moment has passed.

Nothing changed. Everything changed. Life goes on.

I'm very glad we have that DVD. I'm very glad we have those boys. I'm sorry that at some point we're going to have to explain all of that to them in some way that makes sense to their young minds. I can't explain how happy, satisfied, content, there's a word out there that might do it justice but it won't come to mind, that I am that we will be able to explain it with a concert "event" that so utterly captures the American response to that anti-American sentiment and action.

This is who we are, and this is the world we live in. Try to remember and try to keep it in perspective, that's all we can do.


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Dude. Next time TELL me to put you on RSS feed, please.

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