Sunday, September 13, 2009

My Memories of 9/12


When the Twin Towers were hit on the morning of 9/11/01, I was talking on the phone with Carolyn Waller, then-owner of Premier Art Décor. We were discussing the details of James Threadkill’s upcoming art show. We were stunned, to say the least. We immediately reacted with cries and shouts, followed quickly by Carolyn’s prayers. As the extent of the devastation grew, I could not turn off my television. Throughout the day, I watched NBC. The Today Show morning program became one endless loop of grim and shocking images.

The next day, 9/12, I was an exhausted ball of emotions. My endless tears became dry sobs. When I could get through, I phoned family and friends to say, "I love you." I called several mothers whose children had attended college in New York to ask about their safety. I phoned every model and fashion show coordinator I had ever worked with wanting to hear “I am okay.” Everyone in New York had a story of someone who had not heard from a loved one or knew someone who worked downtown. My heart was heavier with each call. Weary and distraught, I continued to dial friends and acquaintances in New York and New Jersey. I was determined to reach as many people as I could. Knowing no one would answer, I even called the offices of Black Enterprise.

On 9/12, planes and other transportation came to a screeching halt, phone lines were stretched to capacity, the death counts were rising by the minute, and numbness and pain were etched in the faces of everyone on television. It felt as the world that I knew it had come to an end and I was seeing a small glimpse of the ultimate judgment day. I was terrified along with everyone else.

My television was still on NBC and the descriptions of the aftermath were more that I could fathom. Local churches, synagogues, and mosques in Nashville were filled to capacity with folks seeking solace and spiritual guidance from their leaders, and comforting others. It was not unusual to see total strangers, united in their shock, embracing each other. Even though whispers of the unknown hung in the air like a fog on a dark dreary night, Americans were overwhelmingly without animosity toward each other. We were all Americans on 9/12, helping our fellow citizens through a national tragedy.

After comforting others, I found relief in the book of Job. Not to preach my faith to others, but I found reassurance in God’s word. Job, a faithful man, lost everything. He was devastated, yet God was with him through his entire ordeal. God was faithful to Job even when others were not. He was mocked and ridiculed, experienced ruin, betrayal, alienation, illness, and rebuke. Financial loss is one thing but Job lost his family. At one point, I wondered why I picked passages from Job to read at a disastrous time in our country.

As soon as I asked my question inwardly, I was immediately reminded of the power of Job’s story. The book of Job, one long poem, asks why innocent people suffer. God, who is always faithful, cares about his people, even when we do not see His hands or lose our footing. Our time is not His time. We often lacks patience and perseverance. Through all the desolation, Job refused to insult God. His faithfulness and steadfastness was rewarded by God by not only restoring him to his former prominence but he sent a wise man to explain truth to Job and the very friends that were so eager to denounce Job’s faith. Job’s decision to follow God even in despair replenished my soul on 9/12.

After reading Job, I wanted to help anyone who needed me. Bolstered by the sense that even when bleeding and in pain, Americans could come together, I made my way to the airport, giving out toiletries to strangers, as well as diapers, milk, and bottled water to stranded moms. Carolyn Waller called later that evening to say that after prayer and speaking with James Threadkill, the show would go on. “We will not be beaten by fear,” she said passionately. My eternal distress was uplifted by her determination to stay positive.

When I turned on C-SPAN Saturday to watch the 9/12 Project, promoted by media entertainer Glenn Beck, I was expecting to be reminded of the same determination for our country to stay positive, resilient, and united that I remembered eight years ago. I was expecting to to recall memories of rededication to work with each other to make our country better, because that was experienced on 9/12/01. What I saw left me wondering why 9/12/09 Glenn Beck would evoke a time remarkable for national unity as a backdrop for this event. His fomenting of discord toward our government was hard to miss and opposite of what so many Americans felt in their hearts on 9/12/01. Instead, the thousands covered on C-SPAN expressed anger and disillusionment for an America that protesters barely recognize anymore. What a contrast to the crowds we watched on our television screens on 9/12/01 when the fundamental goodness and tenacity of the American people were on full display. No one shouted down our country leaders on 9/12/01. I remembered that time being bleak, but also marked by the undeniable strength of our country, for all of its diversity.

Protesting is American as apple or sweet potato pie and there is no attempt by my post to deny anyone the right to protest. But the mindset of our country on 9/12/01 was not the message shaped by Glenn Beck on Saturday, 9/12/09. Glenn Beck, who remained in New York while protesters assembled in DC, exploited a somber chapter in our national experience in a way that should dishearten anyone who remembers that day as vividly as I do. For Glen Beck To use the memories of Americans who lost their lives and the anxious days that followed a horrific moment in OUR country’s history to promote his ideology is not only shameful but disrespectful to the families, first responders, the City of New York and our great country. Protest please, by all means, but let’s not pretend project 9/12/09 was a depiction of the state of the country eight years ago because it was not. On 9/12/01 many Americans were grieving but united. No one chanted angrily about taxes, Marxism, socialism, communism, Nazi, Hitler, Germany, and states’ rights were not words I heard on 9/12/01. I remember Americans standing tall in midst of a tragedy was my memory of 9/12/01. To evoke the memories of 9/11/01 and 9/12/01 and to promote a "project" that represents a perversion of ideals distilled in those wrenching days is degrading, even for a media entertainer. let's no distort the memories of the innocent. Let's call Saturday what it really was: the Glenn Beck Show.

New York Skyline 9/09/01
Painting: James R. Threalkill. A Mother's Embrace. 1992. 48 x 36 inches. Painting · oil · canvas. $3000.00.

5 comments :

vicksburgnews said...

The day 9/11 occurred people in my department at work were assembled in a conference room with a TV link to see the news. We were all in shock. I knew several mideastern people who worked in the engineering department and I was concerned for them. I spoke out to alert people to be sensitive to them. Most people really did not know what to say as it happened.

This guy Glenn Beck is just an alarmist who is looking for followers and generating $$ for his employer. If that were not true, they would have run him off for all the outrageous things he says and does. It easy for people to fall in to his trap. He puts on "antics" just like a comedian does.

We are all free to decide what we watch. I keep him OFF. Its not what I need to hear.

Charles

vicksburgnews said...

9/11 happened about one week after my mother passed away. I was grieving very heavily still when all that happened. I remember trying to drive home that day. It was most difficult. I went into a very dark depression with that double shot of difficult things to deal with.

For me, I find that it is not very healthy to dwell on 9/11 unnecessarily. That day is now past.

I've got to keep focused on today.

Houseonahill said...

Very nicely done...a calm, coherent voice in the midst of all of "this".

Mary Baker said...

Hi Jenna,

My name is Mary Baker, I appeared on two episodes of the Glenn Beck show and after personally meeting him, I just wanted to share some things to clear up the perception you may have of Glenn Beck. As a Christian I am first concerned about Christ and how things impact the things that He has commanded for those who "love" him. I am not concerned about lip syncing Christains, as they are only professing Christ, however do not follow His ways.

I did not know much about Glenn Beck before meeting him for the 9/12 challenge. I thought he was just another funny entertainer. But after meeting him and speaking with him personally, I have found that first of all he is a man who loves Jesus and he is a man who loves our country.

I follow Christ and Him alone, in that, I embrace my sisters and brothers in Christ. The 9/12 project and the Tea Party movements are two totally different works. The 9/12 project is an effort, to get Americans back centered on God. The second principle of the 9/12 project says that God is the center of my life. For me that is the first priniciple. Glenn Becks first principle says that America is good. If you would go to his 9/12 project site you will see an explanation of his 9/12 values.

President Obama has very anti-Christ, sentiments, he is a full fledged supporter of abortion. Which is a total dissent against the sanctity of life which only God has power to give and take away not man. Women are only carriers of life, they can not create life, so therefore should not be having the authority to say a child should live or die.

You speak as those you are one who has faith, and so I am confident that you will do what Christ would find acceptable, not me, nor your readers, nor President Obama. I can disagree with our President because my color is not my God, God the living God who created heaven and earth is my God. I weigh President Obama based solely on his ideologies, and character and as I compare his beliefs to those of the commandments of God I find that he is not one who embraces the principles of Biblical Christianity. Glenn Beck is a brother in Christ. Jesus tells us in the Gospels that His sheep, hear His voice, and they follow Him. After personally meeting and speaking with Glenn Beck I see a sincerely desire to follow Jesus.

kim said...

I was pregnant with my first child during 9/11. I remember placing my hand on my swollen stomach thinking, what have I done? Why am I bringing a child into a world that is ending before my very eyes? I had this awful sense of dread that nothing would ever be the same. I remember watching footage for days on end, wanting to rush in to help, but being unable to do so. I have never felt so helpless. I remember watching President Bush continue to read to school children when he heard the news. The shock registered on his face, yet he kept reading. I saw a FATHER, reading to OUR children, knowing that their world would never be the same. I was a democrat then and I remember the liberal media and celebrities begin to rake him over the coals for the VERY act that made him human. They accused him of being uncaring. How did they miss what I saw? As a new mother? It angered me and changed me. For that very reason, I am now a 9/12 conservative, because our security on our own soil is of the utmost importance.

I agree with you 100%, but I will go one step further. Too many people- media, politicians, rodeo clowns, have used 9/11 to further their own gain... at the expense of all of us. One side or the other pandering to our own fears and emotions, playing us against one another.

They are doing the same thing now, all of them. Except they are using race. What better way to dehumanize your enemy in America? Turn our own hard fought history against us. Use the one thing that incites the most anger. Shame on them, each and every one, as they play a game of evil proportions. Trust me they do so knowing the outcome. We the people, must stand together with respect of each others views. Let them know that we are tired of the games against us. Our very freedom is at stake. We will see each other in chains if we continue to let them call the shots.

Great blog, Genma, see you on twitter. :)

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