When the World Trade Towers were bombed I was devastated because of the thousands of people who were murdered. We had never experienced anything like this here. I didn’t eat for a week. Part of the landscape of my backyard had been destroyed. Even all the way up from where I was in Harlem that morning, I could see black clouds surrounding the towers.
Later that day, going back to uptown Manhattan where I lived, I trudged by foot for a few miles with hordes of people, because there was no public transportation. We were surrounded by The National Guard and their automatic weapons. The air was tight. When and where would the other shoe drop? The towers were destroyed and thousands of people on the island had been killed. We weren’t ‘safe’ here anymore.
I had become attached to the iconic image of the towers as part of the island that I grew up on. Shortly after, on a flight coming into New York, looking at lower Manhattan and the absence of the towers, I turned away and squinted to keep back tears.
“How dare those motherfuckers come here and blow up the World Trade Towers!” My father had said. It was disorienting for me to feel so angry in agreement, since the World Trade Towers represented big business, dirty dealings and everything opposed to what I was about. (And in some circles, there is still debate on exactly who those ‘motherfuckers’ are.)
On the night of September 11th, hearing the people chant USA, USA! outside my window, I experienced a shiver of adrenaline and felt further impassioned in my love for my country.
How could I not be in love? As a child of this country, I was weaned on the ideal fueling trail blazers and freedom fighters for almost every conceivable cause. I have roots in the south here, and my ancestors were slaves. I am proud of my people for their resilience and ingenuity with this adversity. While I am also proud of my African roots, today, as part of the black race, I share a national identity that begins here, in the United States of America.
Despite the fall-out because of the history of slavery, and problems arising from the coming together of all of the different types of people here for freedom, with this country’s history and fortitude, I believe that we have the power to transform ourselves into the leaders in even greater areas.
I don’t usually make comparisons between what it used to be like in this country, and how much better it used to be, because I am black and have segregation and slavery in the past. But also I don’t look at ‘now’ as necessarily good or bad in comparison to any previous time, because life is just all a process.
Perhaps part of the process began with the surge of people moving from continent to continent with technology so that we could get to the point we are now, merged more closely together. The United States has been the pioneer in thought and technology in the past. With this dynamic history, and with more effective communication between the people all over the world, I believe we could develop an even greater ideal to supplant the materialism that has dominated our culture.
I know this is weird but okay, now, this song, well, yes — I’ve always loved it because of the genre — most people know I’m a hardcore fan. I like this song despite some of the implications, plus, I was just a huge fool of a fan of Peter Steele. He was young when he wrote this, so, factor that in — ha! My appreciation of this song has probably to do with the weird-ass eclectic tastes I developed here as an American — it’s kind of the same way I love that song Sweet Home Alabama:
beautiful post Sandee xx
Thank you Carla! I appreciate that!
It’s nice to see that someone else loves the U.S. and being American, but understands where a lot of what makes us American comes from. The United States is this amazing place of contradictions. I hate phony displays of patriotism and empty slogans (which is why I hate it when most politicians wrap themselves in the metaphorical flag, because they’re just pandering to people’s fears). A true patriot loves their country so much, they’re willing to fight for it. Not as soldiers, necessarily. Protesters fight for their country. And voters, and taxpayers. Every time someone goes to jury duty, they’re saying they believe in the system–even when it inconveniences them.
Cool song, too. Although your mention of “Sweet Home Alabama” might be inspiring a post to the jukebox soon.
I’m glad you can appreciate where I’m coming from! I guess loving your country is like loving a family member at times — it can be complicated. I’ll stay tuned for a post on Sweet Home Alabama, one of my favorites. I used to feel kind of guilty for liking because I felt like maybe it was an anthem for Southern White people but the lyrics are really more than that — it’s like my post — about people who love their region, problems and all. I’m also glad you liked that song I posted — I know it’s kind of harsh, but it always gives me goosebumps and makes me want to sing along, USA for USA, USA for USA!
Most really hard metal–death, thrash, etc.–is kind of out of my normal tastes, but it’s good stuff. These guys are angry and passionate, which in turn makes the music what it is. I like the stuff you’ve exposed me to, and I’ll probably be more willing to give others in this genre a chance because of that.
Wow Mary! I’m glad I could turn you on to this! I appreciate your being open-minded. I love when that happens.
Awesome post Sandy. It was a day I will never forget.
And, right in our ‘backyard’ — whew! Thanks Shauna! Have a great rest of the weekend!
Thank you. A great week to you.
The thing about 9/11 that I’ll remember the most, was that for the weeks following we were AMERICANS. We know who we are when we’re pushed and we quickly remember the foundation and beliefs that keep us tied together. Just like a big dysfunctional family we can have our in-fighting but if some outsider crosses us, watch out. It’s the fact that we are such a mixed bag that makes us durable and resilient as hell.
I love this country and what it stands for, namely freedom. When that freedom gets threatened I get very uneasy.
Yup, I’m with you, any song that stirs that patriotic pot, no matter what form it takes, is a good thing.
Great post, Sandee!
Thanks Lisa! I must say I think this was a time when I felt the most patriotic, and I knew that I loved this country. That song has always stirred up my patriotic tendencies! And it was weird, this other time, I think it was the movie the Saint where they’re battling Russian criminals and the protagonist is being chased and runs right into the gates of the American Embassy and there’s a really tall black soldier guarding it who takes her in and prevents the bad guys from getting her. I thought, wow, that was a very unique and American moment with the black soldier. Maybe I’m wrong, but It seemed as if the people who made the movie might have set it up that way to arouse that sentiment.
Yeah, I remember that day very well, too, Sandee. It was surreal. I was working in broadcast news — a cog in the corporate machine that is ABC. Ironically I had 9/11 off to work on a freelance writing gig paying $200 — can you imagine that now? I first heard about it on WBLS expecting my usual morning dose of hip-hop, R&B, and snark. Instead, the deejay was hysterical. What she was saying prompted me to turn on my TV where I saw one tower collapsed and the other burning. I knew instantly that this was not an accident and we were under attack. I lived walking distance from the network which was in 24/7 news mode with all hands on deck. My phone service was dead so I ran down to report to work. Broadway was empty and it seemed closed to vehicular traffic. The avenue was flooded with dazed people with many dust covered. All were walking in silence. It was so eerie. The only sound I recall was footsteps. I knew most did not know what had exactly happened but everyone looked grave, many shell shocked. I also felt fiercely about this place, too. As flawed as the US is, this country is my home. The husband of a colleague was killed in the towers. She was left to raise a baby and a toddler solo. I know that plenty of people hate us, but this attack was comparable to Pearl Harbor, an act of war, but with a 21st century style enemy. 9/11 also prompted an intense unity in this city. Class, race, where you stood on the political or economic divide became irrelevant. I felt all New Yorkers cared deeply about one another and for awhile the usual gripes and grievances took a back seat to getting through that time together. It was very important to me to be here when my city, a place I love so dearly, was attacked.
Wow LA, you were much closer to the bomb site than I was, seeing people actually covered in dust! That would’ve freaked me out. Very scary. That’s so sad about your colleague’s husband. I wonder how many of us know someone who died that day. I knew one person who died, a young man who was only on the second day of his job there. He used to work in the local bar helping his mom who was a bartender. I was jogging a few days after the bombing and stopped to look at a home-made memorial by Inwood Park for all of the victims and I saw his picture there. I just ran off crying.
I wasn’t that close. I was on the Upper West Side walking against the current around 11 AM as people who had been commuting to work were walking home due to the subway system shutting down. Clearly, some of them were very near the site. Your acquaintance’s son’s death is just another reminder of the senselessness of what went down that day.
Your next to last paragraph is indeed where we have to go-tolerance, collaboration, compassion and intelligence.
I’m idealistic but I think it can be accomplished. It’s exciting for me to think of the possibilities.
You’re a great writer, SCB. =)
Aw Stacie — thank you! I missed your writing! I see you’ve posted something — can’t wait to check it out!
This resonates with me so, so much, Sandee. I lived one mile north of the Towers and I was home from work that morning. I stood outside my building with a ton of other people watching that evil smoke billowing out of the buildings and then freaking out when they fell down. Everyone had that same reaction you describe, HOW FUCKING DARE THEY????? Everyone’s face had that same expression: anger, shock, and grief all at once. And then about 20 minutes later we saw the first “refugees” from the WTC area, covered in dust and debris. They all looked shellshocked. But it was really an incredible, and bizarre experience, we were all in it together.
I grieve for what we’ve become, because I know that as people we’re SO MUCH BETTER than the rest of the world thinks we are. The people in government don’t speak for everyone, and we can do so much more. We still have so much potential, if only we can do something with it.
Just one mile north of the Towers — that’s close! And you were able to watch it at that distance, as it was happening is horrifying.
It’s so complex the way I feel about the whole thing though it did bring out the feeling of attachment that I have to this country, naturally, I guess. People in other areas of the world are dying regularly and finally, we get to see what it’s like to lose so many people at once. There was a part of me that felt how dare we get all indignant. We’re always so detached from this kind of horror, when it happens with regularity elsewhere.
Now that I’ve talked about — as you say — the potential that we have, I’m like, okay so what do you propose, Sandee…