Friday, September 12, 2014

Mommy, The Firemen Will Get There, Right?

Fisher-Price Rescue heroes always save the world.  Real heroes do their best.
Like most Americans and a high percentage of world citizens, September 11 is a date that will be forever a time for me to pause and reflect. Yesterday (September 11), my husband and I returned home, after taking my daughter to college and helping her get settled. Miles ticked by and as the distance increased between us and our oldest child, I remembered a day when all I wanted to do was to hold my family close. During our trip home yesterday, I thought a lot about the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. 

I was not acquainted with any of the people who died that day, but I have grieved for all of them. The way I pack a suitcase for air travel is much more complicated than before because of new restrictions for safety; as is crossing International borders. I never used to give much thought to airplanes passing overhead; now I find myself willing them to stay in the sky. Mostly, however, what has changed is a feeling of security.

The majority of us born before 1995 or so know exactly what we were doing when we learned of the attack. I had taken my daughter to preschool and returned home with my three-year old son. I turned on the TV, as one of his favorite children's shows was on at that time. I was in the kitchen when I heard him call, "Mommy, a plane just flew into a building!"

What? I thought I had accidentally turned on the wrong channel and he was watching an adult movie. I rushed out to correct my mistake, and saw the "breaking news" announcement. A replay was already being shown of what my child had just seen. Stunned, I watched and I remember I kept exclaiming, "Oh no, those poor people." When the second plane hit, my son asked what was happening - and I didn't know how to answer.

Then he said, " Where are the firemen, Mommy?  They will get there, right?"

That question brought my attention back to my responsibilities as a parent, and I calmed my demeanor and switched off the television. I gathered up my little boy, and tried to explain the horror of the news he had just witnessed, in a way that it would lessen the terror of it. My mind was reeling, and it was much later that the full significance of his question sunk in.

My son's favorite toys at that time were Fisher-Price Rescue Heroes. They are action figures, sold with books and movies about their courageous rescues. "Billy Blazes" was his favorite character - a brave, level-headed and compassionate fireman.  "Billy would find a way to make everything okay," my son probably thought.

There were a lot of "Billy Blazes" at the World Trade Center that day, and they did everything in their power to "make everything okay". The stories of the selfless rescue efforts of firefighters, emergency medical technicians, police, and other people who climbed UP towards the burning, crumbling floors of those buildings are heart-wrenching. The courage shown by the passengers and crew who acted to abort the hijacking of the fourth plane is humbling. The rescue efforts and many, many acts of kindness in the aftermath are heart-warming. Had it been humanly possible, these people would have accomplished the rescue a three-year old believed feasible.

The news of this terrorist attack was too much for me to handle without adult support. I found a children's video to occupy my son and distract his thoughts. (Another television show was not an option - every station was broadcasting the news, and he had seen more than enough.)  I called my husband and cried. Then I called a good friend whose daughter went to preschool with my daughter. Neither of us wanted to be alone, and we felt a need to be close to our children. We decided to meet at the preschool, even though pick-up time wouldn't be for another hour. When my son and I got there, there were at least half a dozen moms who had come early as well. We continued to try to find out more news, and talked and prayed. In the days following the attacks, occasions like this when Americans drew together and comforted each other were common.

After that first accidental viewing, I attempted to censor the television coverage my children saw of the attack. We had to give them an explanation though. Sadly, they no longer believed that adults could fix everything, and their world felt less safe.

So did mine. Just like my son found out that life doesn't always have the happy ending of a Rescue Hero episode, I found out that the United States is not as safe and secure as we all had believed it to be.  

We will be forever saddened by the tragedy of 9/11/01, in awe of the heroes of that day, and grateful to everyone who has worked to ensure our safely.  September 11, forever-more, will be a day we mourn our fallen and celebrate the courageous acts of true real life heroes. 


We Remember.



- Watch More Never Forget: A 9/11 Tribute


This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog.  Check them out!

16 comments :

  1. Seven women who worked for a company in my hometown that I had worked for, doing a job I had done, were on Flight 11. Yes, we will forever remember. And we are forever changed.

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    1. I am so sorry for the loss of your friends. Such a tragic day.

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  2. Excellent, heartfelt post. 9/11 will always be one of those tragedies where people ask, "Where were you when it happened?"

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    1. Thank you for the compliment. The grieving was globally shared, yet we were all in a different geographic location when we heard the news. I think talking about that somehow further connects us.

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  3. Thank you for sharing your story about that day. Mine is a little different. On that day, a good friend was in labor with her first baby. She had major complications, and ended up in a coma. Everything was okay in the end (baby was fine, mama was okay after a few weeks). Such a surreal day - I remember being torn between worry for my friend and horror for the events unfolding. Luckily my kids were too young to understand or ask questions, because I'm not sure I could have handled that too!

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    1. So glad your friend and her baby were okay. What a lot of trauma in one day - and it has led me to think about what it must have been like for people suffering "regular" medical emergencies in New York amidst the horror of that day.

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  4. I'll never, never forget that day. My second son and youngest daughter sat there, glued to the screen. Horrified by what we were seeing bun unable to look away. My so scribbled the whole time in his journal. I kept wondering what he was writing. I'd love to read it now. So many things lost that day. But so many things found as well. That's what I cling to . . .

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    1. Yes Diane - I think that is what we all cling to. Without the true face of humanity showing itself as those events unfolded, I doubt any of us could have coped.

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  5. This was beautiful. I remember that terrible day as well. It was a day that many will never forget... and never should. You encompassed the tone and feelings of that day in a wonderful piece. :)

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    1. Thank you so much. A lot of the feelings of that day surfaced again as I was writing this and focused on remembering.

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  6. Thank you so much for this wonderful post. I also remember that day since it was the day before my 10th birthday. My parents had the same reactions as you and your calming techniques, thanks for linking up!
    Jenny Marie

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    1. You were probably at school then, Jenny Marie. I can imagine the teachers had a hard time teaching any lessons that day.

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  7. Great post Susan the video is amazing. That time is etched on everyone's mind. My youngest was 9 and she knew I worked in a big highrise in Cincinnati for the IRS and when they showed them the video in class she became hysterical thinking it was my job. I had just .taken her there the previous weekend. When they closed our offices that is where I immediately headed to get my babies. She was in the office when I got there. Needless to say it was a great reunion. I picked up both of my kids and went home. Thatsbthe only place that made since at the time.

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    1. Your poor daughter! How frightening! It was such a surreal day - it felt like anything could happen next.

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  8. Replies
    1. Yes, I think a little bit of all of our hearts broke for good that day.

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