Tag Archives: COVID-19

September 11th

What happened to our memory?

When the events of September 11th occurred, it changed the world. It was a horrible change, but it did bring some unity to our country. Suddenly we were united against one enemy. I was in Washington DC at the time, and I can honestly say that people just got nicer, even if it was only in the congested Washington DC traffic. People waved, allowed you to merge in front of them, made room, consideration for fellow humans prevailed… suddenly. We were all in shock.

I have written about this before…. I saw the Pentagon burning. I saw cars pulled over on the side of the freeway – people lining up at phone booths (we had them at this time) to call their loved ones. Cell phones weren’t as common, but if you did have one, you could not get through to anyone. I remember worrying about my family in California and what attack might be coming their way at the various federal buildings in which they worked. It was still early morning for them. I wanted to warn them not to go in to work.

But it really didn’t hit me until I was back at my small studio apartment in Alexandria, Virginia and watched on my giant clunky television (we had those at this time) the extremely tall buildings being toppled by airplanes. I had just seen these buildings in person, for the first time in my life, just weeks prior on a trip to New York. I remember thinking how tall the buildings were – they almost made me dizzy just looking up at them – they were THAT tall.

I saw people jumping out or falling out of these tall towers. It still makes me tear up to think about what I saw that day.

I kept wondering, what was it like to be at your office, working as a clerk or secretary, or any other average office employee… and to look out the window and see a commercial airliner coming straight for you. That was the image I had in my mind. Did anyone actually see it or was it just so quick that no one saw it coming? I guess you wouldn’t know unless you were in that situation. And those people are gone. This is just how my brain works, I picture myself in the other person’s position.

Since March 2020 life changed dramatically for most of us – if you were in California as I was, your life changed dramatically more than people in other states in the US because of the extreme measures that were taken. But there were no planes hitting towers. There was footage coming out of Wuhan, China showing death and quarantining of people, due to a leak of a virus – COVID-19 or what we then called corona virus. Then we quickly saw the statistics in Italy, which has one of the oldest populations in the world, of the deaths due to the corona virus.

People freaked out. In California, parents locked their kids inside the house. I still have the image of a child’s writing on a window in my neighborhood etched in my mind. It said “Can I go to the Out now?” We were told we had to mask up. We had one of the first mask mandates in the country in our small desert town. Playgrounds were promptly roped off with tape. People were actually calling 9-1-1 on people who dared walk in the neighborhood with no masks. It was an extreme reaction, and frankly, I wasn’t buying it.

I tried to sound the alarm. I was shouted down by the most vocal and loud minority in our society. Nobody was listening. I’m guess I’m just not loud enough.

Now, as I can think of the positive that came from the horrible events of September 11th, small as they may have been – they were human. But, I cannot think of any one positive thing that has come from this COVID pandemic hysteria. In fact, it is quite the opposite. People are ruder, less humane, and more division and hatred exists now than before. There is more visceral hatred.

People don’t even seem to WANT to get along. They treat each other – and even worse, our children – as lepers. They believe everyone carries this virus, dormant inside, and somehow we can all infect each other – sort of like a zombie apocalypse movie. Everyone is a big germ.

I see people now embracing awkward elbow bumps instead of shaking hands. People avert eyes as their mask-covered faces quickly look down at the ground. Where I used to imagine getting involved in the PTA or volunteering at schools, for instance, I now feel uncomfortable and frankly, unwelcome. It’s as if I am a walking disease just waiting to make everyone sick. And my children are too.

Why would anyone be wary of me ? My vaccine passport wouldn’t fit in a large suitcase – I have had vaccinations that many reading this have never even heard of.

Now, I could have gotten by thinking this is just temporary, but we are going on two years of this. Where does it end?

After September 11th I had friends (yes, it was California) who claimed that President Bush had orchestrated the attacks and it was all made up, like a Hollywood movie. They had all these conspiracy theories. I was horrified listening to them. Now, I’ve seen this conspiracy theory theme twisted around. The original conspiracy theorists are now telling people how to think. These same people will tell you there has never been a pandemic in our lifetimes. These people will also tell you we’ve never had two or three hurricanes lined up in the ocean at a time ever before.

I even had one clearly deranged individual tell me that the people in those towers that day deserved “what they got”. That the problem was how rich all those people who worked in the towers were. It didn’t matter to this person that the majority of the people in their office early in the morning were not the mega-rich, they were the clerical workers, secretaries and mid-level managers. Either way, being “rich” does not justify being murdered by terrorists.

Where once, aside from the obvious nut jobs mentioned above, we stood together after a horrible terrorist attack on our country, now it seems it’s every man for himself. Parents of older children are not concerned with the effects of masking on our youngest children – because it doesn’t affect them directly. If it doesn’t affect them, they don’t want to get involved or even hear about it. They hide their heads in the sand. The small, loud minority of shrieking voices rules the day.

“It’s just the way it is now.”

It is only that way if you continue to allow it to be that way.

On this Patriot Day, let’s remember.

Does Anyone Remember?

It kind of bothers me sometimes how little people seem to remember. In the U.S., at least, it seems any time an event occurs, it is immediately hyped up as being the first time ____ has ever happened. Just within the past couple of weeks we heard that two hurricanes were heading toward the U.S., one behind the other, and THIS IS THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY THAT WE’VE SEEN THIS!! Surely we all remember a time when two hurricanes happened to be lined up near each other in the ocean and were headed toward the U.S. I remember plenty of times myself. Never mind that usually one of the storms gets downgraded and is no longer a hurricane by the time of landfall. When Irma was heading for the Florida Keys, I saw plenty of hysterical posts on social media about how this was the first time such a strong hurricane had ever threatened the Keys. Seems no one can remember or even has the skills to research a little anymore. In 1935 (just as ONE example), The Labor Day Hurricane caused incredible damage to the Florida Keys. You can still see that damage as you drive down to Key West alongside the railroad that abruptly ends, destroyed by this hurricane and never repaired. Remember Hurricane Donna and Betsy in the 1960s? One of them most certainly was guilty of tossing a Volkswagen Beetle into the bottom of the sea – a creepy shipwreck-like scene that I was fascinated by as a kid swimming in the open ocean.

It’s not only hurricanes and weather events – what about swine flu or H1N1? Does anyone remember that? I do. I actually had the swine flu – in 2009 – and I survived. We didn’t shut anything down for H1N1. We were simply told that if you were sick, stay home. It was a pandemic, just as we’ve had numerous other pandemics. What about SARS? MERS? COVID-19 is not the first pandemic, though the unprecedented freak-out that we have seen in response to it is certainly new.

Terrorist attacks are not new either. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, just as one example, there were numerous plane hijackings. Does anyone remember the Iran Hostage Crisis? Does anyone remember the almost constant news of suicide bombings that we used to hear about on the sidewalks of Israel?

I know for certain that I will never forget September 11, 2001. I had hardly been in the Washington, D.C. area a year when it happened. I had just visited New York the week prior and stood at the feet of the Twin Towers, amazed at how tall they were. I remember how, that morning, I bumbled into the office of the IRS task force I was working for, to see the police officers and IRS agents all transfixed by the TV screen. They were watching planes crashing into the World Trade Center Twin Towers in New York City. I remember being somewhat oblivious as I went with a colleague to pick up snacks for the office and seeing the smoke on the horizon – at the Pentagon. I remember it sinking in as I saw people pulling over on the side of the road to try to make phone calls from phone booths (we still had those) – because if you had a cell phone, they were not working. I remember thinking of my family on the west coast, and worrying that they would be hit next. I remember watching the news coverage of people jumping out of the Twin Towers so they would not burn to death. I remember wondering how it would have been to look out of your office window to see a plane coming right at you and knowing you would die – if there would even be time to think. I remember for days after the attacks how nice people became, and how much courtesy we all suddenly showed each other.

Let’s try not to forget so much. Let’s try to learn from history. Let’s learn how to research again and try to find facts, not just narrative. Let’s remember how to make our own decisions instead of blindly accepting someone else’s. Let’s try not to avoid subjects just because they might be unpleasant or upsetting to talk about or remember. For, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.