War and Peace

Ten years ago today, we were walking through the Sistine Chapel as the planes were crashing into the towers.  I’ve often thought about the contrast between the two events.    As we walked through a revered place of worship, people were being killed in the name of God.

We actually learned of the attacks as we were in a taxi and the radio was blaring while the driver was shouting in Italian.   The only words we could understand were New York City and “explosivo.”  We asked the driver to take us to the nearest hotel.  We hurried into the lobby where the staff was gathered around a small black and white television.  There we saw the smoke rising from the towers and learned what had happened.

We were stunned and horrified.   We returned to our hotel and were glued to CNN as the events unfolded.   We were actually scheduled to leave the next day but all flights to the U.S. were cancelled.  We spent the next four days wandering around Rome, then Florence and finally Munich as we tried to get back to the U.S.   We were zombie-like as our days were spent looking at historical treasures like the statue of David and our nights were spent on CNN.

All we wanted to do was be at home and hug our boys who were being cared for by our parents while we were in Europe.  Finally we got one of the first flights back to the U.S. and made it to Seattle several hours later.   Hugging our boys was never better.

It saddens me to think that our boys have grown up in a country that has been at war during their formative years.   They have both been wanded at airports and think of airport security as routine.  More recently they have also seen the effects of a country in recession.  It has been argued that the terrorists have accomplished exactly what they wanted on 9/11:  draw us into a never-ending war and cause economic hardship.

Much has been made of the notion that if we changed our way of life the terrorists have won.  So, I can be happy that I still live in a democracy.  But I struggle with the divisiveness that exists in Congress and how our country seems paralyzed and uncertain about how to solve its very real problems.

This piece by Jess Walter in The Seattle Times is a must-read to gain a clear perspective on our shared experience and lessons from 9/11. As we reflect on 9/11 and its lessons, it’s worth considering that the biggest learning should be that we are better together than apart.  Let’s come together and get right.

Song of the Day

Of the many wonderful moments following 9/11 this performance has stuck with me over the years.

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