In Memoriam: The Day When Everything Changed

As I prepared my blogs ahead of time, I came to 9/11. Monday is my regular posting day, and I had a post about writing ready to go. Then I typed the date.

And stopped.

Memories swamped me. Where I was. How I felt. How I needed to connect with my traveling husband, and the phone circuits didn’t work.
Even though it’s not a “special” anniversary this year, I recalled it all. I’ve never understood what makes one anniversary better than another. Twenty-five years is silver, and fifty years is golden.

Every year should be a celebration of the fact there is another year to celebrate.

Anniversaries of hard times aren’t celebrated at all. But they are marked on the calendars of our heart. Four years since Mom died. Eight years since Gram died. Five years since my friend moved away.

Today is that day.

A day loaded with melancholy and horror, grief and terror. On the flip side, it’s brightened by national pride and patriotism.

New York City skyline

In memoriam of This Day, I’m sharing an informal bit of poetry.

It Only Takes a Moment

One moment
Life is business as usual
Alarm clock and workout wear
Planning sack lunches
Checking the to-do list
Heading to the gym
Kickboxing and sweat
Another day in the life
Of a blessed American citizen

One moment later
Everything tilts sideways
Planes used as cannon balls
Sirens, smoking towers
People gaping, weeping
Unquenchable fires
No way to evacuate
This has to be special effects
But no, this moment is all too real

Only minutes later
Another plane crashes
The other tower flames
Too much horror
Not enough time
Rescuers become victims
Newscasters are speechless
Video gives awful detail
Life becomes a horror show

One hour later
Jumpers and screamers
A tower implodes
Thousands of innocents
Who woke up to normal
Sleep forever
No one escapes
Tragic terror
Every foundation rattles

Heroes step forth in this darkest of hours
Defined in their moment of sacrifice

One day later
Prayer vigils with candlelight
Fluttering flags at half-mast
Churches overflow
A nation of mourners
Stunned to silence
Awakened to need
God Bless America
News time sign-off

One week in slow motion
Weeping abates, anger stirs
Patriots stand, orders obeyed
Racial profiling
Fingers pointing
Vengeance and blame
Can justice prevail
To rebuild the ruins
Or repay the death toll

One new tomorrow
Greeted in gratitude
Forged in unity
Gained in freedom
Faded with time
Gone so soon
Forgotten in life
Until that one moment
When everything changes

Again


On September 11, 2001, I walked out of the gym after my kickboxing class at the fitness club. I glanced at the screen (they have TV monitors everywhere in those places) and wondered what movie trailer was playing.
Seriously. It was so horrifying, it had to be from a film.
In my car, the radio announcers explained the situation on the East Coast. Shock numbed me. Many hours later it sank in, devastated me.
The experience is beyond words, but maybe those I shared above touch a little bit of the significance of That Day When Everything Changed.
Where were you when you learned about the 9/11 terrorist attack?

Happy Birthday America! And What’s new on my Blog

God bless America! The “land of the free and the home of the brave.”

It all began on this day in 1776. A bunch of revolutionaries wrote up a fancy document and sent it off to the King of England, who ruled them at the time.

I’m talking about the Declaration of Independence. But independence isn’t so easily won as that. Winning freedom from oppression takes more than a piece of paper.

This document started our nation on it’s Freedom March

It would be a few more years before the U.S. Constitution was drafted and the United States of America became an independent nation.

So, happy birthday, Miss America. I’m still proud to be an American even if I shudder at some of the problems in America.

Light off an extra fire cracker for me.

The NEW Me

Logo - New Color

Look at the pretty red to pink header on my page. Doesn’t it scream for attention?

And did you notice the new tag-line for my site? Maybe you even voted for it when I was polling my Facebook friends.

Holding out for a Hero.

Has an excellent ring doesn’t it? Makes you think of anything? If I say I write romance or fantasy or inspirational fiction, the line still makes sense. It’s all-inclusive.

And since you’ve been seeing plenty of posts about Captain America and the idea of being a superhero, it makes everything clearer.

I hope.

I’m trying to streamline my author brand. By choosing colors and a tag-line that speaks to the heart of my message, I’m hoping to find my niche, make a connection or just settle in with an audience.

Special Blog Series

Beginning this week, I’m going to start a series of posts to fit the theme “What Would Wonder Woman Do?” I got this idea from a discarded tag-line during the process of honing in on the perfect fit.

Since I’m trying to make all my posts have something to do with heroes, this seems perfect.

Look for this meme on Thursdays, and you’ll know my take on something from Wonder Woman’s worldview is about to follow.

WWDT

Another series inspired by rejected tag-lines is “Between the Lines.” I’m not sure when I’ll begin posts with that theme but they will be the midweek post once Wonder Woman is exhausted.

Does Wonder Woman ever need a break? This one does.

Your Input

Beginning this month, if you follow via email, you’ll notice that I’m returning to posting three days per week. I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to keep that up.

Mondays will be my regular posts. Thursdays will be my What Would Wonder Woman Do series (until I deplete my creative brain on that topic). On Friday or Saturday, I’ll post “The Week In Gratitude” or something like that. It will be the gratitude memes for the week.

How does all this sound?

I don’t hear much from the readers of my blog. I tell myself it’s because you’re delighted with the content I’m providing. If it’s because you’re bored or aren’t reading it, I hope this change will inspire renewed interest.

If you have ideas for series themes, let me know. If there are other topics you wish I’d address, feel free to tell me about it. The comments on this post is the perfect place for that. Or use the contact form from the “Author Info” page.

So What Would Wonder Woman do if she were you?

Patriotism: One Woman’s Perspective

Old Glory Flying High
Old Glory Flying High

Sitting in a metal folding chair, I’m surrounded by parents. We’re in the gymnasium of our neighborhood elementary school. My son is receiving a reward.

The principal approaches the lectern and asks everyone to stand for the flag salute. All those first through fifth graders who were sitting “criss-cross applesauce” on the floor stand. In unison, 100 youthful voices say, “I pledge allegiance to the flag…”

I freely admit that an enormous clot of snot clogged my throat. Tears set my eyes on red alert. Something about a crowd of young people reciting the pledge with one voice chokes me up every time.

It’s the same with the National Anthem. This embarrassed me twenty years ago. People stared at me, wondering what I had to cry about. It was only a song, after all.

Eighth graders at the middle school where I worked for seven years still learn the history behind it. Sadly, I think to them, it’s just another meaningless factoid they’ll be expected to know for a test.

Patriotism dies a slow death in American public schools. How can I say this? Here are a few proofs:

  • Kids don’t stand for the pledge. Only five years after the incident where I listened to an entire school recite the pledge in unison, I stood dumb-founded at the back of a classroom. Tuesday morning the principal came over the intercom and “offered the opportunity” for students to say the pledge. In a class of 34 students, maybe 20 stood up.
  • Some of them talk during the pledge. The teacher in the room during a specific year I’m recalling is a veteran of the navy (and I served in the Army Reserves). A few students decided to have a confab during the pledge. When it was finished, she took them to town. It’s disrespectful to talk during this ceremonial action that takes all of 20 seconds to accomplish. You know what happened? One of the kids complained to his parents. Parents called principal and the time for the pledge was moved to a different class period so that student wouldn’t be in that teacher’s class during the pledge. Really? That’s a solution?
  • What’s the name of the National Anthem again? You might think I’m joking, but if I asked 20 students at the middle school, only 60 percent of them would be able to tell me.
  • Freedom is a right. American youth have an incredible sense of entitlement. The example of the kid tattling on the teacher is a perfect illustration. They have the right to do and say as they please. They are free to disrespect anyone and everyone. Freedom is a privilege, but these kids have so many privileges that they could care less about it (unless you infringe on their right to wear an obscene t-shirt to school).

Maybe I’m just an over-emotional woman, but I cried when I stood in front of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC, for the first time. A long wall of names of brave men and women who died so some kid could talk during the pledge.

Vietnam War Memorial in D.C.
Vietnam War Memorial in D.C.

Okay, that was an exaggeration, but in reality, what would make these kids sit up and take notice that their freedom of expression was bought and paid for by millions of pints of blood over hundreds of years?

Freedom is never free. As soon as we start taking it for granted, we’re disrespecting all the patriots who gave it all for our liberty.

How do you define patriotism? Do you think the youth of today lack it? Will they “grow into” it as they become more mature?

Discovering the Freedom Trail

Where the Trail Begins
Image from catchthewinds.com

Boston, Massachusetts, city of historic significance, offers a unique perspective on the issue of freedom. Most specifically it speaks to the quest for freedom in the New World.
There is a red brick path that circles for two and one-half miles through the streets of Boston. Strewn along this marked pilgrimage are bronze markers and numerous monuments to the Revolutionary War and our founding fathers. This trek enlightens the seeking soul – or at minimum – educates the enquiring minds who read the words left behind from our forebears.
My husband an I started at the end of the trail. This kept us meeting up with a parade of people who had started their journey  in the Boston Commons.  At least we didn’t get held up by a string of people less motivated to conquer the trail.
The trail ends – thus began for us – at the Bunker Hill monument. How often does a monument mark the site of a battle that was lost? This 221 foot tall obelisk, a shorter version of the Washington Monument, does just that.
It stands atop Breed’s Hill. (I know you’re wondering why it’s the called the Bunker Hill monument – you and millions of other people). This place where revolutionaries lost to troops of superior number and armament holds inspirational value because it proved that the British army wasn’t invincible. After all, it took them three tries and half their men to overrun the fortification.
Freedom has never been free. It demands a ransom paid in blood. Whether the blood of soldiers or the blood of a Savior, freedom’s immense, innate value requires sacrificial lives to acquire.
It would be cheapened if it could be bought with perishable silver or gold.
“If the Son shall make you free; ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).
In America, freedom loses its preciousness because the generations that fought to preserve it are passing away. The younger generations despise war and want to barter for freedom some other way.
It can’t be done. Not that anyone should be a warmonger, but as long as men (I mean mankind here; this is not a push for women rulers) rule the world, war will be necessary. Greed for power, wealth or land will drive some men to oppress others and only warfare will release them from these chains.
It may be a warfare fought with marches and protests, speeches from platforms or guns and bombs. People will be called upon to lay down their lives. The price of blood will be paid. Freedom will be won.
Is there another way to teach our children to value freedom so they won’t need to learn its pricelessness through oppression and warfare? When many of them refuse to stand in honor of the flag or recite the Pledge of Allegiance, their patriotism wanes.
On The FreedomTrail, I discovered and rediscovered the names and stories of many patriots, valiant men and women, who forged into the bloody unknown so there would be a country called the United Satates of America. They marched against king and country, an oppressive regime, emboldened by the pursuit of life and liberty to birth a nation now represented by thirteen stripes and 50 stars.
How much does freedom mean to you? Are you willing to pay the ultimate price so those children who refuse to honor Old Glory with twenty-two words spoken as they stand, hands over hearts?