It’s a day of mixed emotions for me today. Being “R U OK” day in Australia, and still 9/11 in the US, it almost seems ironic. A lot of people in the US are probably NOT OK today. Even though it’s been 12 years (WOW – already?!) there is still a lot of pain, hurt, hatred, fear and a deep sense of loss for not only those who lost loved ones, but those who stood and watched – in person and on TV – as towers crumbled and some people fled while others froze in shock. First responders bravely went in, as others struggled desperately to get out. Images of people desperately jumping to escape and ultimately jumping to their death are ingrained in peoples memories and will be forever.
I was living in Atlanta at the time and remember the morning like it was yesterday. I remember the phone call from our accountant, “Turn the TV on. New York is under attack.” I remember watching in disbelief – is this a movie? Footage from some war-torn, 3rd-world country? I’ve never seen strangers act so kind to one another as I did that day/week/month.
Some argue that we need to move on. That rehashing what happened on that day is no good for anyone. That by re-living that moment in time, we are giving the terrorists what they want. That they win. But to ignore 9/11/01 and to carry on as if it is just another day would be disrespectful to those who died, and to those who have lived the last 12 years without their husband, wife, sister, son, cousin and so forth.
September 11th showed us who the true heroes are. They are men and women in uniform. Not men and women in movies and sports arenas. They are men and women who risk their lives every damn day, doing something we all take for granted and whinge about – going to work.
As we sit by and watch the atrocities unfolding in Syria, I think about the millions of people in that region who are NOT OK. Men, women, CHILDREN, who have lost their lives, the ones who are fleeing FOR their lives, the fear, terror, helplessness. My heart aches and I get so angry. Why isn’t someone doing something?
So while today I am not particularly feeling OK, I am feeling grateful. I’m grateful that I will be ok. I’m grateful that no one I loved was in NY on 9/11/01. I’m thankful for the freedoms we have in our country. For the security we have. For the right to live. I am thankful for our government, no matter which party is in charge, because I know that neither would ever allow a situation like Syria to unfold in Australia.
Today I will undoubtedly deal with people who will whinge about some asinine thing or another, and I will want to slap them. But instead, I will just say, “R U OK?” and I will smile at them and hope that as they walk away, maybe they will realize that their life isn’t so bad after all.