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September 2013

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9-11


9-11, originally uploaded by Cathy (Kate) Johnson.

I feel as though Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "a day which will live in infamy" applies as well to this day. None of us who saw it happen, in person, live on television, or again and again after the fact like a horrible recurring nightmare, will be able to forget the destruction, the stunned disbelief, the fear, the lives lost.

I was terrified that day for the man who will soon be my husband, who worked only a short distance from the Pentagon; as he works for the Navy, I didn't know what other targets might be, and when I heard his voice it was the sweetest sound on earth. My best friend on earth, at least, was safe.

Others were not so fortunate, and they will never hear the voice of their loved ones again.

The courage displayed that day, among the police and firemen, the physicians and nurses, the paramedics, and the bystanders who helped one another escape the devastation, are what this country is all about, to me. When we have to, when the situation arises, we are there for one another.

Those in uniform, those public servants we all take for granted, those who stand between us and chaos, disaster, terror every single day, focused, present disaster or not--I tell them thank you, whenever I get the chance. There needn't be a cataclysm to do so...everyday courage is theirs, every day--and they should be recognized.

Yesterday I went grocery shopping, and at the salad bar, two of our local firemen were there putting together a lunch. I don't know why it occurred to me to do so, but I walked over to them and shook their hands, and thanked them for their courage.

They said no one had ever done that before.

I was dumbfounded. These people, and the police, and the men and women who wear the uniforms of our military, stand between us and danger.

There's not much I can do about 9-11. It happened, and it was an unbelievable horror that we were forced to live through. It still gives nightmares, it still impacts our lives. It didn't break us, and it will not.

But what I can do, today, is recognize those people who do what they can to protect us. And thank them.

Comments

(Anonymous)

Beautiful tribute and words.
Thank you...the painting was my way of dealing with the disaster--I did it a year or so afterwards. Many tears while I was painting it, but not so many, afterwards...
i try to thank the people whose lives mean so much, as well. we forget how much effort goes on behind the scenes to keep us free, and give us at least the illusion of safety. i believe that altruism lives in their hearts. so many put their lives on the line on a daily basis, and we just take them for granted. i try not to, now...
I absolutely agree, sweet thing. I always try to thank our servicemen and women...but you know, you come under the heading of those deserving our thanks, as a nurse. And so I do. You make lives easier, better.
bless your heart--i never even think about it--it's just what i do, second nature. it was a compulsion, from the time i was a kid. a calling? i had no choice...
I know, that's what makes you so special.

(Anonymous)

What a strong statement. Full of emotion. Something I would have like to have done, but I couldn't pull it out of my creative self. I'm glad it helped you to exorcise your demons, it's a beautiful testament to those who we rely on every day to keep us safe. What a bold, beautiful painting this is.
Thank you...I've never cried so much while painting, before or since--except perhaps when I did the drawing for my late husband's memorial service.
Thank you for sharing this, both your words and your very powerful art.
Thank you, Jena--I'm glad you liked it...
You are quite welcome. I always enjoy your sketches and paintings, but this one really stirred something in me.
I don't think any of us will really forget...
And we never should.

I just shuddered as the train of thought took me from thinking of this 50 years from now, telling grandchildren about it... and then realizing that it's very likely that there will be another horrifying life-stopping event like this in each generation's lifetime... that my future children may have something like this in their young adulthood... that future grandchildren will think of their grandmother's story about 9/11 when they face some future horror... that the existence of humanity means the existence of tragedy and catastrophe.
I feel a little bit ill.
I know. My sweetheart and I were just talking about the same thing...the things that humans do to one another, and always have. Pearl Harbor, WWI, the Civil War, Gallipoli, Guernica, Falkirk--does it ever end? I tend to see the very long picture, and there have been so many, so many, throughout history.

Finding joy in the everyday is the only way to stay sane, I think. And finding your courage, when you must.
Amen, amen.

I look forward to someday earning the wisdom and perspective you have.
I think you're quite wise!

I've almost always seen life, as a friend says, in glacial terms. The big picture. Oh, not everyday--I'm as capable as anyone of getting ticked over the small stuff. But History, capital H, and humanity...that's different.

I am grateful, though, that despite all the atrocities we have committed against one another, I do still believe in the strength and courage in the human heart, the individual soul. Politics, wars, violence can conspire to make us forget that, blind us to it, tempt us to despair, but when it comes down to it, people rise to the occasion. We persevere. We help one another. Goodness triumphs, in a thousand tiny ways. I hold to that.

(Anonymous)

FROM LIN

what an AWESOME, strong, incredible piece, Kate ..... words defy me ... I am overwhelmed and grateful for the heart-pulling message...

Re: FROM LIN

Many thanks, Miss Lin...