Tag Archives: 9/11

Challenge: Legal Theft: An Education (507 words)


She had only heard gunshots at a distance. Sometimes an explosion echoing through a tranquil wood, a wild fire in a distant part of the forest, the question of life or death for sport. Sometimes a sound that might have been a shot or might have been a car backfiring or might have been a transformer blowing and shutting down power to a block that wasn’t hers, something that she had chosen to believe was anything but while the question lingered. Mostly she knew the sound of gunfire from films, depictions of violence after which actors stood up, unhurt, and walked away, blank rounds and a bit of gunpowder to make a light like a firework maybe if the era or the drama called for it.

What news footage she had been forced to witness by well-meaning teachers, she had suppressed or lost to the doldrums of busywork and summers where she didn’t have to learn.

What she knew of gun violence was not firsthand. She knew people who knew people but had never known anyone. She had seen what it had done to those who knew people. She knew enough about human experience from fiction and experience to know what it did to people who knew people, even before she knew people.

She remembered a day in middle school when too many lives had stopped and the world had tilted and flung weeping students into teachers’ arms and shook out flags, when breaths were short and quick, and tumult had come crashing down like airplanes out of the sky, like a set of buildings.

That day seared.

That day years later anytime could still be conjured in stark-shadowed Baroque and flashbulb image. Images and camera footage kept resurfacing on anniversaries and in unexpected places.

That day could still cause horror and anger—anger for the hurt caused, for the hurt that could be caused again by a simple illustration, a brief reminder, for the unthinking reminder.

Then another day. More questions. A lone gunman this time. A gunman in a school. A day that had to be gotten through when others’ days had been ended too soon. Every child a reminder, every parent and child another whiplash, a ghost of a similar embrace lost that day. A tiny town struck silent while a nation, while a world turned eyes that couldn’t yesterday have found it on a map, and a president who could pronounce names like Tehran and Kabul fumbled the name in a speech in a town he would never otherwise have visited.

Now a day. Two dead. One hurt. One running. Questions. Where? Here? A clip unloaded, a clip uploaded, a clip gone viral. Everywhere. CNN? BBC? Everyone talking. What will happen? What did happen? What have you heard? What do you know?

The schools locked down all over. Grief counselors coming into schools because of two people the students never met.

Students too young to understand, and all the parents’ talking. All the news channels showing.

Are they thinking?

What do they remember?

There is an oft quoted and misquoted and misattributed quote: “You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.”  (Quote Investigator attributes this quote to sportscaster Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith.)  This is one of those pieces.  It poured out of me after cutting a vein, and I’ve not edited it much sense spilling it onto the page.

And then I made it the legal theft line of the week, a tricky challenge.

Trebez at Machete Diplomacy used the line to write “Shots and Seconds” and made some interesting observations about gunshots.

Gwen at Apprentice, Never Master wrote “Succeed” (877 words).

C.C. at Creatures, Critters and Crawlers wrote “Reunion.”

Kate Kearney at More Than 1/2 Mad wrote “Making a Name.”

And Bek at Yeah. But So What? Everybody’s Weird wrote “Robbery” (256 words).


Reflections on the Passing of the 10th Anniversary of 9/11


Circumstances have forced me to stop and think about my reaction to the 10th anniversary of 9/11, so here’s something of a different tone and genre.

The comics of this past Sunday’s paper were filled with panels paying tribute to heroes and allusions to the Twin Towers and the reactions that we all had to 9/11 10 years ago.  This one stood out among them:

Thank God that I was not there that day.  I was blessed not to know anyone directly hurt by 9/11.  I don’t even think that among my classmates, anyone lost any immediate family members; if anyone did, I never heard about it.  But I live close enough to NYC.  I can remember the fear.  I know where I was when I heard the announcement of what had happened over the intercom.  I remember one girl, whose father is a pilot, crying in the hallway before she was sent home.  We were young, and we didn’t rightly know what was going on.  Adults around us were scared and hurting, so we were too.

I was not directly hurt by 9/11 in the way that some were.  I witnessed it indirectly, in others’ hurting, in TV coverage, but I understand what Trudeau is getting at, and I sort of share the sentiment.  How much are we being hurt by reliving the event?  How many of us need to relive the event?  We won’t forget; we can’t forget.

9/11 affected me deeply.  How could it not?  For 10 years, almost half of my life, our country has lived in fear, in a state of constant war.

Those who followed this blog through the summer will know that I wrote a paper for graduate school for which the thesis was that Walden Media’s 2001 cinematic adaptation of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is not only a call to Christian battle, but a call to the War On Terror.  My research for that paper taught me just how harmful coverage of 9/11 might have been to me and others.  Psychological studies show that symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder increased with increased time spent watching coverage of 9/11.  I think more people suffer from this than know that they do–myself possibly included.  That I can still so clearly see images of that day through the haze of 10 years and a bout of Lyme disease that affected my memory says a lot.  So, yes, we’re still suffering from that day, and we won’t forget.

Another thought that’s niggled my brain over the past few days is:  Why do people remember the Twin Towers’ collapse and forget about the Pentagon and those who sacrificed themselves and took down the plane on their terms?  I’ve yet to stumble across any direct mention of these in my paper.  Is it different farther from NYC suburbia?

And one last thought:  We came together after 9/11/01.  That feeling of unity should be its legacy, not horror.  I want to quickly quote Alan Jackson’s “Where Were You”:

“I know Jesus, and I talk to God, and I remember this from when I was young:  Faith, Hope, and Love are some good things He gave us, and the greatest is Love.”

Maybe we could all benefit from remembering that again instead of our fear and sadness.