Sunday, September 11, 2011

What right do I have?

I read a blog post this morning that was written by a woman who lost her husband in the attacks on September 11. He was in the Twin Towers when the planes hit, and his body wasn't found until November. The post was stark and heartbreaking, and it made me wonder if I, who lost no one in the attacks, have the right to claim a story about that horrible day.

What gives me the right, I thought, to talk about how my day stopped--about how I decided not to follow my teaching plan but instead discussed with my classes what had happened and what it could mean. What gives me the right to try to describe how sad I felt, how my stomach ached when I saw all those men and women leaping to their deaths. What gives me the right to remember that I picked up a pizza for dinner that night because the events of the day were so horrific, and I didn't feel up to cooking. What gives me the right?

But the more I thought about this all today, the more I realized that I do have the right. I am an American. An attack was made on my country, and it took the lives of my countrymen. When something happens to one, it happens to all.

By claiming my own story, I realize that I'm not diminishing the anguish, the pain, and the horror that so many people faced firsthand. Instead I'm taking my place next to them; I'm there with them, suffering with them, praying for them. We are they, and they are we.


  1. united we stand!
    nice perspective, Dana.

  2. While Li'l D slept this morning on our air mattress in Eugene, I read dozens of peoples' recountings of where they were when they learned the news. It didn't hit me that I had my own story, or that the story was relevant. It was, in fact, only on my drive back from a girlfriend's house to my own tonight that I wondered why I didn't feel my story was important in this. I think you've hit the nail on the head with your entry. Truly.

    I was flying this morning, which was a little anxiety-inspiring although I knew there was little likelihood of attack today. Many of my fellow passengers' TV screens were covered with images from 9/1/11, which made me mourn each of those lives all the more as I reflected on their moments in the planes . . . and outside of the planes in the hit buildings.

    I wasn't there. I wasn't close to there. But my heart was there, and I remember telling my mom, who urged me to move back to Eugene, "I'd rather die in Los Angeles than live in Eugene." Fierce words, those, but I hope I keep living by their core.