Sunday, August 30, 2009

I find it difficult...

I find it difficult 
to keep my act together when a European tells me that we got it wrong -- that Al Qaeda terrorist Osama bin Laden doesn’t actually hate everything about America and the West. The proof being that "he once was a big Arsenal Football fan." Arsenal is in Britain, I think. 

And that he, Bin Laden, "carried out the attacks on Sept. 11 as part of a bigger mission we must try to understand."
"And that America has taken thousands more innocent lives, like in Hiroshima." 

"What is 3,000 compared to the hundreds of thousands who died there?"

And on and on, until my eyes cried blood. This was last night. 
I don't think this person saw the footage of desperate men and women jumping out of the windows of the Twin Towers right before they came crumbling down. Obviously, this person has never been alive when his or her beloved country was attacked in four surgical strikes in three cities, minutes apart. Clearly, he doesn't know -- nor did I until yesterday -- how sensitive this issue is for the 99% of Americans who lived through that horrifying day nearly eight years ago. And who maybe doesn't want to add up the sum of such naïve drivel to be "your country had it coming."  

I can move past the false metaphor of Hiroshima and the September 11 terrorist attacks, but any “digging inside the mind and reasoning of a terrorist” is dishonest if it fails to acknowledge that the needless spreading of panic, terror and innocent bloodshed is the means to achieving their specific ends.

Oh, to be homesick and sensitive all at the same time. 

I am a hot mess today,  awash with emotions I didn't know I could feel. 

In 12 days America will honor the events of 9/11 on the 8th anniversary of the attack. 

President Barack Obama has called for Americans to commemorate the day with a National Day of Service and Remembrance. I was pleased at this gesture -- it's a thoughtful call to action and an homage to the thousands who perished that day, and the many thousands more who came together to give aid, triage, relief and heroic sacrifices for their fellow citizens in the hours that followed the attacks. 

I remember that morning talking on the phone to my best friend Chris (who lived back east), minutes after the second plane went into the tower. My teeth chattered and I started to shiver, which happens to me when I get sad and panicky. "Cammy, at least the buildings are still standing! It's going to be OK. You're such a spazz."

He hadn't uttered that last word before the towers collapsed right before our eyes, on the live morning news I was watching on LA channel 8. They crashed to the ground in a heap of dust and mushroom-cloud of debris. I told Chris he was full of shit, then called my mom and woke her. I called Jordan, my boyfriend, who had spent the first 18 years of his life in Manhattan. None of us knew what to do. 

I dressed for work, knowing I wouldn't make it onto the Paramount lot. Filming of the TV show I worked on had been cancelled. The set would stay closed and deserted for several days.

I needed to get out of the Santa Monica apartment that I lived in alone, so I wandered into the Seattle's Best Coffee shop just around the corner on Wilshire Blvd. The usual morning shift was there that day. It was like seeing old friends. I ordered my usual and my buddy Mario - the round one who always gave me extra whipped cream -- came out from behind the counter to give me a hug. It warmed me up better than any coffee could.

Across America, Random Public Hugging went up by 987% that day back in 2001. It felt like Armageddon. The clash of emotions inside most Americans was more than any civilian was prepared for. We were vulnerable and bruised; fearful and sad; we needed each other more than we realized. 

On that day, as we saw a disaster strike America, citizens across the country came together and showed the very best of America: compassionate, unified and resolute.

Today, I would give anything for a random hug. From anyone, though I know I sound weird. That would never happen in the country I'm living in now. 

I find that difficult.

1 comment:

Vinci said...

Aww, I would have given you a hug! You really made me think, though, so I've posted something on my blog. Feel free to check it out. Don't know if it's any comfort but I don't think an insensitive European is a mean anti-American - we just have different point of references...