Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering . . . and forgetting

Ron is boarding a plane for Portland in about 45 minutes. He opted to take a taxi instead of driving to the airport himself--in part because it's cheaper than paying for extended parking and in part because he cut his hand last week and it's still pretty sore, so he prefers not to drive.

As I waved goodbye to him from the front door, the driver came around to the side of the taxi to ask Ron if he had any other luggage. I noted then that the man was Middle Eastern and my first--and only--thought was, "Hm. I need to take a taxi to the airport next month. If my driver is Middle Eastern, too, will he feel more comfortable if I sit in the back instead of the front like Ron always does?"

Skimming through some of my favorite blogs this morning, I opened up Janet Reid's and she has a picture of NYC, the reflection of the twin towers in the water. Her heading for the post was "What It Means When We Say We'll Never Forget." It was a powerful image, and the thought of 9/11 still moves me in so many ways.

I was at the gym when the planes hit the buildings. Like everyone around me, I had a hard time at first believing what I was seeing. I got off the treadmill, called Ron, and told him what was happening, as I knew he was at work and not in front of a TV screen. Then I went home to watch the news, and there I sat crying for the next hour or so, thinking, "What am I doing bringing another child into this world?" E was on the way, only about 6 weeks along, and I was terrified for her, for S, for O, for all of us. I finally got it together enough to go pick the boys up from daycare and bring them home to me. The other parents all had the same idea, as I wasn't the first there nor the last.

I've realized, finally, after 7 years, that remembering doesn't mean being afraid. It doesn't mean racial profiling. It doesn't mean assuming the worst every time 9/11 rolls around. It doesn't mean fearing for your husband's life as he gets into a taxi driven by a man from the Middle East. Spending four and a half months in the Middle East was the final step toward that realization for me.

As for what remembering does mean? For me, it means staying--or getting--involved in politics. It means caring about the people that died that day and caring about why they died. It means paying attention to current affairs more than current fashions. It means acknowledging what is wrong with our country and being grateful for all the things that are right with it.

What does remembering mean to you?

No comments: