Friday, September 9, 2011

9/11 - The World As We Know It

First, yes, I am still here.  The past few months have been filled with personal changes from dealing with a completely inept real estate agent selling our home in Oklahoma (I might have to write a book about that experience!), getting my son started in his new school, looking at many homes and bidding on one to start our anxious roots in our new state, and many other interesting events.  In the coming months, we will be moving, starting a business, and trying to figure out how all of this will work...hopefully, a blog post or three will be thrown in there as well, but I make no promises.  Without further delay, here's what I have to say today...

The World As We Know It

From time to time, something happens in the world that changes our lives forever.  On a smaller scale, that "something" may be the day that you got half way to your best friend's house with the Rubik's Cube in the brown paper bag that impossible to solve and decided to take it apart to piece back together in the correct colored formation, only to run back home with tears in your eyes because you lied to your mother and wanted to come clean.  That, of course, is just a hypothetical example and the only people who know otherwise are my mother and myself.  

On a medium scale, the "something" that alters your life may be a lunatic and his young accomplice driving around in a modified vehicle, shooting people at random spots, all in the vicinity of where you work, live, and play.  Unfortunately, that one is not "hypothetical" and has changed my life, and the lives of many people living in the D.C. Metro area, forever.  

On a larger scale; September 11, 2001, December 7, 1941, July 20, 1969, July 4, 1776, and so on.  Regardless of the outcome, positive or negative, these historical events change lives forever. 

I remember a time when I would go to the airport an hour early to make sure I would have enough time to find a parking space, get my bags checked in, get something to drink, and maybe eat, and still have time left to make the flight with my loved ones walking me all the way to the gate.  Today, if you do not allow two, or three hours in busier airports, you are pushing your luck, and you're lucky to get sixty seconds to say goodbye to someone at the curb of the airport before security intervenes.  Forget air travel!  Even the Moon is no longer a mystery; now we have people living in outer-space and we are exploring further out into the unknown.  The Japanese are no longer our enemies after their attack on Pearl Harbor and their vehicles are among the most sold in the United States.  Shift happens...good or bad.

With the 10 year anniversary of the September 11 attacks only days away, and the media coverage going into hyper-drive with all of the documentaries and special reports being aired, thus forcing us to re-live that day (for which, in my mind, the wounds are still healing and is too fresh in my mind to watch), it makes me wonder what my son's viewpoint will be on Sunday, and what events in the future will change his life, forever.  

In the past 10 years, we have elected our first black president.  Although this is a very significant date in American history, I do not believe this is one that will stand out in my son's memory banks.  Don't get me wrong, the event is long overdue and momentous, but because he was so young when President Obama was elected, my son will not know the full impact of the change when it becomes his turn to vote.  Regardless of your political affiliation or beliefs on President Obama's success or lack of, you should be aware that his time in office is a pivotal point in history, because if nothing else, he is our first black President.  Perhaps the first female President will be elected and that may stick with my son throughout his years.  Even that is a possibility that didn't easily exist prior to the Obama Administration.  But my son won't remember a time when either option was not an option.  The way he views the Presidency is not how you or I do, simply because change happened before he became aware. 

My son, most likely, will not understand the full impact of September 11, 2001, because he was four months old when it happened.  Just like I cannot fully understand the impact Vietnam had, my son is not aware of how life was before the event.  My wife distinctly remembers watching the television and looking down at her innocent child.  With tears clouding her vision, she wondered what kind of world she brought this child into. To him, life will always be the way it is today.  That is, until a major event takes place again and alters his perspective of the world, just as 9/11 did for his mother and I.

I was living in Frederick, MD, in a townhouse that my ex-girlfriend and I bought together.  I was working nights at a local restaurant and usually slept in because I could.  I did not watch television during the day, but for some unexplained reason, I woke up early that day, walked downstairs and turned on the TV.  Immediately, I was glued and called my girlfriend right away.  As I was watching and listening to the news cast, I knew the tower was collapsing before the news people did.  I could see it starting to crumble and I lost my breath for a moment.  Speechless, all I could do was watch and cry.  When the plane hit the Pentagon and when the other went down in Pennsylvania, I began to wonder what was next.  Living less than a mile (as the crow flies) from Ft. Detrick (biological warfare research center...oh wait, no, they say it is a cancer research center now, wink, wink), I began to wonder if I would be able to hear the plane crash and how long it would take for me to feel the impact of the chemicals being released into the air.  I hoped that it was quick and painless.  Fortunately, Ft. Detrick was not part of the plan...but I did not know that at the time.  I started to plan my escape route, but had nowhere to run.  Clips of Patrick Swazye, C. Thomas Howell, and Charlie Sheen (before he went nuts) in Red Dawn kept playing in my mind.  Yep, I even got my guns ready...just in case.  Needless to say, I was a mess.  At some point, I looked up to the soft blue sky and took note of the smattering of angelic white clouds.  You never notice the amount of air traffic above your head, until there is none.  Except for a few fighter jets passing by every hour, the skies were eerily quiet and free of any man-made object piercing the air above.  It was disturbing. (And a great example of things that are normal in my world experience being so different from my grandparents' experience...)

Red Dawn, 1984
I wonder what events will change my son's life forever.  Is it the time he did not use two hands (after I taught him over and over again to use two hands!) to catch a pop fly and the ball popped him in the mouth?  The surprised look on his face and his mouth and cheek muscles keeping his eyes from watering followed by the look of anger because I said, "See?  I told you so. I bet next time you will use two hands!"...those things tell me that might be one he remembers for a long time.  Maybe not.  Is it the time some insecure little brat bullied him at school a few years ago?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But these are all small scale items in the big picture.  Here's what I hope he might experience of this world ...

1. An agreement between nations to work together for a better world, despite differences, that will be signed by every nation's leader in 2018...and it actually works.
2. The day that all extremists took it down a notch and realized that their way may not actually be the best way to live and decided to, peacefully, persuade others through the power of the pen, and not the sword.
3. The day that people look at each other as one race; the human race.  That judgment occurs not by some shade of skin, religious beliefs, or political affiliation but based on personal actions.
4. The day that people become accountable for their own lives and actions and stop blaming other people for their shortcomings, attitudes, and general negativeness.  Unfortunately, the ones who need to do this have no idea it is them who need to change. 

Utopia? Yeah, I know, wishful thinking.  But, I can dream, can't I?  If I put it out in the universe, maybe someone else will see it, act upon it, and put it back out there for others to follow. 

I hope my son's memories are filled with positive world events. I hope it does not take a major horrific event like 9/11 to change his world.  

This Sunday, take a moment to remember. Take another moment to ponder what it is that you can change in yourself to help make the world a better place for everyone.  The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. 

Disclaimer...(Yes, it’s a repeat of the last one...but the blog above is new!) First, let me say that I am not a specialist in Asperger's Syndrome, nor do I play one on TV. What I write or say are strictly my own personal observations and beliefs, so please do not sue me because I said something that made you do something that caused a misdiagnosis, or created a problem, or made you do something stupid. Have accountability, go see a professional, and leave my finances alone...besides, you really wouldn't get much anyway, so it’s probably not worth your time to call the lawyer on the back of the phone book to see if you have a case. Spend that time more wisely, like figuring out how to subscribe to my blog...and don't ask me about that because I'm not even sure how it works! Seriously, though, if some of the things I say seem like they sound very familiar in your family, set up an appointment with a true professional. While you are waiting for their callback, please, continue reading and leave a note!


  1. I always wondered how you got the Rubik Cube put together so fast. LOL

    Nice blog today and very appropriate for the time. We all have memorable moments in time when big events occur. I still remember watching TV in Abidjan when the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up on January 28, 1986. As you may remember they never had any English speaking news on or any foreign news at all. They broke into the programming for that event and it was strange to see it on local tv.

  2. Yes, I, too remember where I was and what I was doing at the moment the news broke. Thinking of it and all it meant to so very many of us still makes my eyes tear up & my heart ache. I pray your son never has to have an event such as that as one of his memories.

    Glad you're back to writing! I look forward to reading more postings.