A Slight Depature From the Norm: 9/11
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Today, I’ve decided to touch on a different topic, but if you would like to read yet another one of my takes on relationships, click on the piece I wrote for TheRoot.com. “Why Jay-Z Should Rap About Marriage”
I didn’t need to be any closer than I already was to understand the magnitude of what took place on September 11, 2001.
I was actually on my way to my part time job at Pentagon City, the shopping mall neighboring the Pentagon, when I heard about the World Trade Center attacks and then, the plane flying into the Pentagon. Admittedly, the first thought I had was how my commute into work that morning would be affected, because I was in a rush to get to Sam Goody (where I worked) and buy a copy of Jay-Z’s The Blueprint on my employee discount.Then I turned the TV and that’s when I knew, I wasn’t going anywhere.
Being so close to one of the three places that were attacked on 9/11, I knew the tragedy of the day’s events would forever change me. I knew I would never forget seeing the smoke rising across the Potomac, never forget the calls of worry from friends and family all day, never forget the sound of my brother’s voice who lives in New York and was one of the citizen volunteers helping people to safety at the World Trade Center that day. For me, what happened on 9/11 was life changing. It was enough.
But three years later, the date of September 11 would take on new meaning.
I just moved to New York, two months prior, adjusting to life after college when on September 11, 2004, my Uncle Jeff was murdered in his hometown of Hayward, California. The end result of a fist fight my uncle won and his killer couldn’t stand to lose.
Five years after my uncle’s murder and eight years after America’s most horrible tragedy, I find myself overwhelmed with the magnitude of both events, and what it means to be an American, in these days and times.
We talk a lot about the War on Terror and Homeland Security, about terrorists from overseas who want to do us harm. Ever since 2001, these things have understandably been a concern for many of us who live in this country.
But what gets lost in the sauce is the terrorism we reek on one another, the kind of terrorism my Uncle Jeff fell victim to five years ago when he was killed at point blank range by a man my age. In our pursuit of enemies abroad, we can’t lose sight of the enemies at home, which is not to say my uncle’s killer was against country. I trust that’s hardly the case. But when you’re so angry at another man that you can take his life with no remorse, your enemies are from within. You’re angry at not just someone but something. And like so many others who wander our streets, angry with the cards they’ve been dealt, my uncle’s killer reacted to that anger by taking a life that did not live an ocean apart, but probably blocks away.
Trust me, I want talk about homeland security, but can we talk about the whole thing, and how we need to not only be aware of the enemies who come from outside of our borders, but also those who want to do harm within them? Can we talk about the war on terror, but also include the terror we inflict on each other? Invade countries like Afghanistan, so we can feel safer over here, but understand that over here, things aren’t entirely safe.
This may be selfish of me to wax poetic on. After all, it’s been said that on 9/11, we’re all New Yorkers, Washingtonians, and passengers of United Flight 93, which crashed in Shanksville, PA. But on September 11, I am both a proud American and one who is ashamed by what I see going on in our streets everyday.
For me, the lessons I learned on September 11, 2001 and September 11, 2004 both boil down to one thing, which is this: We have to care about it all.