My Parents’ Wedding Anniversary

I woke up this morning and turned on my television set, which was last on A&E, where I had been watching “Storage Wars” I believe

What greeted me was a documentary on the Sept. 11 Terrorist Attacks. This film showcased the attacks in real time from the moment that the first airplane hit World Trade Center Tower One to when Tower Two went down, including the folks who felt hopeless enough to jump to their deaths.

Not really caring to linger on that visual, I changed the channel.

But it seemed as if everywhere I went, the terrorist attacks followed me.

They were featured on “SportsCenter”. All of the Sunday Morning programs originated from Ground Zero. MSNBC even re-ran the Sept. 11, 2001 edition of the “Today Show”.

And don’t even get me started on Fox Sport’s coverage of the NFL. I fully expected Howie Long to put on a flight suit and make his way to an aircraft carrier before the kickoff of the Philadelphia Eagles/St. Louis Rams game.

It was patriotism run amok…and when an Army Brat tells you that, it’s an issue.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with America and Americans remembering a day that really did a number on us as a country. In addition to the loss of close to 3,000 people, we lost our sense of security as a nation to a large extent.

Heck, I can even remember where I was when the attacks happened. I was on I-95 north on my way to work. I saw a sign that said, basically, that New York was closed, something that made me say “Well, I guess I won’t be going there today…”

When I got to the picket lines of the teacher’s strike I was covering and found no teachers there, I also figured that something was up. I went to the Union Hall and found out that the teacher’s weren’t picketing because a plane hit the World Trade Center tower and the union president was afraid that her daughter was on one the planes. (She was flying from Boston to LA). That began one of those days where being a reporter is a good news/bad news proposition. The good news is that you have a hot story that everyone can localize. The bad news is, you’re not able to process it for yourself until you get home.

(Editor’s Note: I’m still pissed off at ABC for showing the airplane hitting Tower Two on a continuous loop all night. I couldn’t sleep behind that shit. If I ever meet the producer who thought that was a good idea, he or she will get slugged. That is all…)

But that said, the loss of our sense of security has led to America doing some things that have really pissed me off over the last 10 years. There was a time after the attacks happened that I couldn’t get on an airplane without damn near having to submit to a full-cavity search. And remind me sometime to tell you about the fun I had getting my souvenir baseball bat from Turner Field in Atlanta home on an airplane without breaking it.

And I’ll be kind enough to spare you my diatribe on the fact that we’ve decided that if it’s a choice between liberty and security, we’ve opted for security. USA PATRIOT ACT. I’m just sayin’.

A Facebook friend posted a blurb that New York Times columnist Paul Krugman put on his blog about the commemorations of Sept. 11 and how subdued they seemed this year. He also says that in light what happened next, they should be subdued.

What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful. The atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.

A lot of other people behaved badly. How many of our professional pundits — people who should have understood very well what was happening — took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity?

The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.

I wish that I could disagree with Krugman. But I can’t. It’s still not safe to be a Muslim in the United States. We’re still in two wars, only one of which makes sense to me. And our economy is still all kinds of jacked up, something that’s led to the further decimation of the news business.

But while I could dwell on all of that, something that it appears the TV industry would love to see me do and something that would really give me something to talk about in my Media and Social Memory class on Tuesday, I’ve kinda been raging against the dying of the Sept. 11 light over the last couple of years.

Why? Because of the date these bastards chose to play “Let’s crash the airplanes into the towers!”

You see, Sept. 11, more than a few decades ago, my parents, Jack and Ollie Clay, got married.

My dad was in the Army and mom worked in a factory near Paris, Kentucky, which is where they got married in my grandparent’s living room. They were together for over 40 years and as far as my dad was concerned, there was no one more important to him than my mom and the rest of us.

I have since found out that Sept. 11 is also the birthday of my friend Carol Colby-Hubler’s late father, the father of Kim Pearson, journalism professor extraordinaire, Annette John-Hall, one of my favorite newspaper columnists, my old neighbor Kyle Brown who has always amazed me with his intellect, me and Carol’s former classmate Joyce Artemus, and a whole host of other people who have made their mark on the world.

So while it would make sense for me to concede this day to the assholes who barged in on it, and the havoc they created as a result, I refuse.

My mom and dad loved each other until the day he died. And I’m convinced that she will still love him until she’s no longer on the planet.

So to me, this day isn’t about the acts of some misguided people. It’s about love. The love between my parents. The love Carol and Kim have for their dads. The love that Annette has for the written word. The love that Kyle has for knowledge. The love I have for all of them and the people who I call my friends and family.

A love that’s stronger than any hate that can be brought to bear.

So while I’ll say a prayer for those lost to the violence that befell us as a nation on Sept. 11, 2001, I’ll also say another prayer thanking God for the love that surrounds me every day.

Because in the end, love is stronger than hate, any day of the week.

Here’s a commercial that Spike Lee did for State Farm to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of Sept. 11. It’s actually kind of cute having kids singing “Empire State of Mind”. Thankfully, they chose the only verse that kids could sing without raising the eyebrows of their parents, Could you imagine a kid singing: “City never sleeps, but i’ll slip you an Ambien”?

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