Thursday, September 15, 2011

“9-11, Revisited”

c. 2011 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Note to Readers: Historic anniversaries often make us look backward, and reflect upon the time that has passed. What follows here is the Maple Leaf column I wrote after the horrifying events of September 11, 2001. I had spent the day on duty as a Co-Manager for the Giant Eagle store in Chardon. Afterward, with wild rumors being repeated everywhere, I went home and began to write…

LIFE DURING WARTIME (September 12, 2001)

Everyone has their own perspective on historic events. Indeed, each of us might offer a unique view when considering the same timeline. Where were you… when news of JFK’s assassination was announced? When the hostages were seized in Iran? When Ronald Reagan was shot? The answers will reflect a variety of circumstances that color these happenings. America is a nation brimming with diversity. Different translations of identical facts add to the mix of daily life. Compare the following recollection with your own for evidence of such things:

For this writer, September 11th, 2001 awakened without special concern. Because of my work schedule, the morning began about half-past noon. With groggy remnants of sleep still in my eyes, I prepared coffee and toast. Vague thoughts of our computer made me frown. (A problem with the telephone line had kept us out of commission for an entire week!) In the Ice household, Tuesday had only begun. I stumbled down the basement steps, while taking inventory of personal duties. My checkbook had to be balanced, and an unsent e-mail for Keith R. Ball waited because of the technical woes. (I was in the midst of assembling a feature for his motorcycling website.) In addition, much yard work was waiting. None of this was more important than the immediate need to saturate my bloodstream with liquid caffeine!

I had been underground for only a minute when my wife called from upstairs, with disbelief clear in her voice. “Rod! There’s a message on the phone…” Her son had called from work that morning. “We’re under attack… turn on the television right now!!”

I literally ran for the living room. “Attack? From who??”

A strong mug of java couldn’t prepare me for the video feed from ABC news. My spouse was equally shocked. We sat motionless for a long time. Scenes of destruction and tragedy filled the screen. My eyes were burning. I could not escape feeling that it was a second coming of the attack that predicated our entry into World War II. Thoughts of the movie Independence Day were unavoidable. Also echoing were the notes of Life During Wartime, from the Talking Heads album Fear Of Music. There, David Byrne sang “This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no foolin’ around…” It was an eerie moment.

When composure returned, I wrote an electronic message to one of our friends who lives in New York City. A drummer by trade, he has enjoyed a career of session work with musicians in the area. My hands trembled as I wondered if he would be able to reply. A day later, his response said much about the uncertain mood that prevailed. “Thanks for your concern… my area is VERY quiet. It’s as though I’m much more than a mile-and-a-half away… as of yesterday, everything will be different.” Instead of signing the message with a regular salutation, he wrote the word ‘uneasily’ before his name. I was glad to know that he was safe, and well.

The following period of reflection produced a Geauga slant on this woeful occurrence. We shared thoughts of grief and sorrow with our friends across the county. Some were mystified by the evil acts that had transpired. Others saw the calamity as a visitation of dark forces. But all agreed that we had passed a milestone of great importance. There was no longer the luxury of ignorance to shield us from duty. A response of some sort had become inevitable. We were in a new age of uncertainty. The current battle was alive on domestic soil, not the loam of a distant republic. Thoughts of a tidy, sanitized conflict were gone with yesterday! In TIME Magazine, Lance Morrow offered a chilling perspective. “What’s needed is a unified, unifying, Pearl Harbor sort of purple American fury – a ruthless indignation that doesn’t leak away in a week or two.” It was as if the spirit of Roosevelt and Churchill had been aroused. (Modern parallels do not exist here.) Our way of life had been challenged by foreign enemies. No course remained except for a path directly to the heart of these angry foes!

A prayer for guidance echoed through our churches as the sunset fell upon September 12th. Ironically, this was my 40th birthday. I spent the night considering my entry into the world at Riverside Methodist Hospital, in Columbus. Mixed with such personal images were the graphic depictions of rubble from what had been the World Trade Center towers. I could not avoid comparing the progressive, post-war ebullience of my parents’ generation to modern conditions. It was a contrast of worlds. But a similar belief made both yesterday and today possible. And that steadfast devotion seemed likely to carry us toward the future. So the sight of horror in New York could not diminish our trust in national values. We remained sure of faith, family and friends at the close of Wednesday evening. These are treasures that will never disappear. In the end, such wonderful gifts transcend anything that reckless souls can manufacture.

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