I'm guessing we are all thinking about the Day That Everything Changed. Where were you when the world stopped turning? I'll tell you about my day and I hope that you'll share your day too on your blog, or here, or somewhere. Its hard to believe it was 10 years ago. Or that there is a whole generation of kids who don't know what it was like Before.
I feel like an old timer telling kids that there was a time when we didn't have a multi-billion-dollar a month war, or when most folks didn't know exactly where some of those Middle East countries are on the map, or there weren't big gaping holes in New York City...or that going to the airport just wasn't all that complicated and there was still a lot of joy in air travel.
In fact, one of my best memories was at an airport - when I came home from my out-of-state school the first year of college. There were so many people crowded around the door marked B-6 when we all got off the airplane that I couldn't find who I was looking for...but then out of the crowd stepped The Big Man.
I was so surprised that I screamed as I jumped into his arms and he twirled me around and then he carried me off. The entire crowd cheered for us...I guess you could say, I've actually had two Hollywood moments. But now you get off an airplane anticlimactically, no one there rushing forward to greet you, all the non-passengers kept away until you make that long walk alone, past all the TSA folks and security, to the public areas. But that's just one minor way Everything Is Different.
On this day, back then 10 years ago, I was living my big life in my nice house in a city on the West Coast. I happened to be off work at the time and had slept in that Tuesday. Later in the day I was supposed to go with some folks to the nearest county fair. I hadn't bothered to turn on the TV and I was surprised when the phone rang. It was a friend, her voice shaking, saying she had gotten home safe. "Safe? Safe from what? And why aren't you at work?"
"Don't you know?" She stammered, unable to find words..."The..the..World Trade Center..has been.. its... its no more."
I hung up without saying goodbye, turned on the TV, and stood transfixed - unable to believe what I was seeing.
Later, one of the people going with us that day merely shrugged at the news and asked when we were leaving? "We aren't going anywhere," I said, "We've been attacked, we're at war."
It took a while for it to sink in and to realize what happened to us, to our country, to the world. The next few days were a maze of disbelief, shock, and a little panic. Some of my friends were traveling for business and were flung far and wide, unable to get home because all of the air traffic was grounded. Gradually they trickled in. We were all accounted for but the unease hung heavily around us.
The news coverage was constant, the images all burned into our memories. From time to time, I stood outside of my house looking at my city and realized the halted air traffic made everything silent. In a city known for its aircraft, it was almost incomprehensible.
I casually knew one of the people killed when the Towers came down. He was a fine young man, working his first real job at one of the brokerage firms. He was on the phone to the gal who would have been his wife when suddenly his phone went dead. That's the last anyone heard from him. He was just a guy going to work, excited about his new job. He was younger than me.
I don't forget what happened. Having lived Before, and now, After I know the full weight of how Everything Changed. I get a little frothy when some folks try to gloss over what happened or think that debts need not be paid. Or worse, when folks pour on the politically correct speak and think we should go soft on the offenders.
I was criticized recently when I didn't particularly feel too bad when Seal Team Six took the shot and brought down our worst enemy. Wasn't I saddened that a life was ended? Didn't I feel bad for Osama's family? Nope. I tend to get a little bit redneck and a whole lot Old Testament when it comes to justice. I think of the words of the poet laureate, the great W. Nelson, when he once said, "Send 'em all to their maker and he'll settle 'em down."
There's going to be a lot of talk about loss today, about the cost, and what we can't get back. No doubt we will all get a lump in our throats or shed a tear when we see the pictures and hear the stories from that day. We can't imagine the grief of the family of the fallen.
But let's not forget the heroes that day. The first responders, the ordinary people who helped get others out of the buildings, and especially the folks on Flight 93 who fought back against the hijackers. That's America, friends, real people doing amazing things.
The last thing Todd Beamer, just a regular guy who happened to be on that plane that day, said - that anyone on the ground heard was, "Are you guys ready? Okay. Let's roll!" Then Todd and the other passengers stormed the cockpit and prevented that plane from becoming another weapon. I've never had such pride for my fellow citizens as I did when I first heard that story.
So let's all take a somber moment today and remember the lives lost, our world changed, and the troops that are still on the front lines. But then lets celebrate the heroes, the ones you'd expect as well as the ordinary people who were just trying to do the right thing that day.
If I could get my barnyard crew together, I'm guessing our celebration for those heroes would go a little something like this.......
OFG hurried toward the barnyard, American flag draped over her shoulders, waving a big "We're #1" foam finger, face painted in red white and blue, leading Debbie the goat who was also painted in the flag colors...hens can be heard in the background chanting, "USA! USA! USA!"
Titan was just finishing his set on the main stage... he was singing "Courtesy of the Red White and Blue" (he sounds JUST like Toby Keith!). Just as he was slayin' it and screamin' into the mic "...you'll get a boot in the a$$ its the American way"... the guineas did a fly over. Cannons roared and the crowd yelled, hu-rah!
Some of the younger hens were on stage as the Big Dog's background dancers and they all shimmied and shook their tailfeathers into a formation of the special Black Hawk helo's used in the raid to take out Bin Laden. Suddenly, Lucky burst onto the stage, representing the K9 troop's participation in the mission. The crowd cheered as he suddenly leapt from the stage, doggles and all.
The entire barnyard spontaneously burst into a chorus of "My Country Tis of Thee" as the geese lined up for their bagpipe and drum cadence. They honked and squeaked as they circled round the barnyard twice. Meanwhile, the ducks used special rigging to hoist our big tom,TurkZilla, painted as an eagle, high above the crowd and into the pine tree. With fireworks in the background he dramatically sailed over the crowd, clutching an olive branch in one talon and a bundle of 13 arrows in the other.
Unfortunately this had the unintended effect of scaring the daylights out of The Mob, the very young chicks, who thought he was a real eagle coming to kill them. The Mob were supposed to hold up the letters spelling E Pluribus Unum but instead broke formation and ran back into the hen house spelling instead, "pine burs lumuu."
Aside from that, there was only one other hiccup in the program. Nibbles was supposed to dress up like a SEAL and perform a dramatic reading of how the team overtook Bin Laden's compound...but she showed up in a seal lion outfit instead. Nibbles was pulled off stage when the crowd started laughing hysterically. As she stomped off angrily she was heard muttering something about "Seal, sea lion, whats the difference! I just can't work with these people!"
The runner ducks hastily took the stage and performed an ill-rehearsed, yet enthusiastic, re-enactment of the passengers of Flight 93 storming the cockpit. Everyone cheered when Fran Drescher, the noisiest runner duck, perfectly delivered her line, "OK. Let's roll!" The crowd went wild - cheering, giving each other high fives and whooping their pride.
There was bit of a disturbance when some protesters, rats from the turkey house, tried to break up the celebration. They were complaining about how we shouldn't be celebrating a victory over an enemy. OFG pushed her way thru the crowd to face down the rats. She whipped out her axe and drew it across her palm, and showed the malcontents that she bleeds red white and blue. The rats withered under her glare.
Without breaking her steely gaze she made a sound under the breath, something like, "hooah", and out of behind her Kai appeared snarling and growling. The rats dropped their "Give Peas A Chanz" signs and ran off, with Kai hot on their heels.
"Nothing to see here, folks! Nothing but American pride welcome in this barnyard." Said OFG as she led the crowd back to the merry making.
Then Shine King of Barncats took his position to ring the dinner bell as OD the gander, solemnly prepared to read the names of the victims of 9/11 in his deep baritone voice.
As the barnyard paused and heard each name read, then a gong, then a name, then a gong... each remember that behind each name was a story. A person. A family. A grief. Some in the crowd wept. Some prayed. All came together to remember.
As the sun set the party began to wind down. The last of the apple pie was eaten, the fireworks had all been lit, and the crowd started to fade off. OFG stood alone in the barnyard watching as the ducks took down the banners and the turkey hens tried to get TurkZilla out of the rigging from his earlier dramatic swoop. It turned out that buying used high flying equipment from the Broadway Spiderman show probably wasn't the best idea. They decided that next time, someone who could actually fly would be the eagle.
Little Kai came up and sat at OFG's feet.
"It was a nice celebration, Momma. Do you think the people who died that day would have liked it?" Asked Kai, wagging her curly tail.
"I hope so, sweetheart. Its important that we remember them and their families. Come on now, its time to go inside." OFG turned to walk toward the house.
"OK. Let's roll!" Kai exclaimed as she hopped and skipped to walk by OFG's side.
OFG smiled as she absently reached down and patted Kai's head. "That's right, Kai, let's roll."