Thursday, September 8, 2011

That Day

My wedding day is "that day" which always seems as a blur to me.  Don't get me wrong, I remember it vividly and recall all the wonderful people who turned up on such short notice, but "that day" was a blur due to how fast it took place.  To be totally honest there were forces at work that were conspiring to prevent me from recalling with vigor every detail of that momentous occasion.  The biggest culprit "that day" was my inebriated state due to the fact that I had my bachelor party the night before.  If you can imagine the entire Ft. Sill Rugby team and a bachelor know it did not end well for the Man of Steel.  In fact I had to be transported back to the hoosegow in the bed of a truck.  I'm just glad it was an evening wedding ceremony or yours truly would not have been there...a word of advice for those young men getting not do like this idiot and have your bachelor party the night before.

There are only two days in my life that I have this ability to recall with clear cut precision as to exactly what I was doing. I mean I could stand there with such clarity and dodge bullets like they did in the movie Matrix and at the same time eye some fat bastard in the corner of a pub trying to steal the remainder of my hoagie. 

The first one is April 4 1983.  Yeah, I'm a Wolfpacker for was a surreal moment that I didn't even get to watch on TV!!  I was stationed in Germany and listening to the live feed on Armed Forces Radio at 3:00 am in the morning.  Coincidentally, my young ass was "Charge of Quarters" at the 84th USAFAD  "that day" and after hearing all the bedlam coming out of my radio once Lorenzo Charles flushed down an errant shot from Dereck Whittenburg to win the NCAA Basketball Championship I was in complete delirium.  This fool went screaming down the hallways and banging on doors...of which the occupants were none too happy about...screw 'em, it was the Army they had to get up anyways.  It's funny now that I look back on it, but whenever that event is mentioned or something related to it comes up, I instantly go back in time to this security room with only the sound of the game on, the whirring of the teletype machines and that monotonous voice in the radio demanding that we, "prepare for FLASH traffic!!"

The other might have guessed it by now...9/11.  Yeah, it has such a profound meaning on our country that you don't even have to add a year to it.  I'm not one to get all bent out of shape when it comes to flying...if you spend enough time in the military you'll have flown in enough bad aircraft to know that being in the last row next to some heavy set gentleman and within earshot of two crying babies is pretty comfortable in most cases...but even I get a little antsy when either myself or the lovely and talented Claudia takes to the skies each and every September.  It's just going to be the nature of the beast when we conjure up memories of "that day."  My sweet adorable grandmother talks about the attack on Pearl Harbor in similar fashion, except that in 1941 living in Harnett County I dare say anyone had the media access as we did on 9/11. She actually didn't hear about it til Monday, Dec 8, 1941. For her, and much like the rest of us on "that day" in September 2001, she had never known of so many Americans losing their lives in a singular event such as that.

The one indelible moment for me of  "that day" is when another fellow DOT employee came into my Albemarle, NC office and asked me and my boss David, "Did you hear that a plane flew into the World Trade Center?"  My first response was to ask, "What kind of plane?"  He sort of shrugged and said, "I dunno, I'm thinking maybe a small Cesna."  David said with some sort of confidence, "Oh, that building can handle that sort of impact."  We didn't think much of it til we went back to our desks and happened to notice the stream of traffic in the hallway that was heading for the large conference room where the TV was tuned to the local station.  As I walked into the room I arrived just in time to see the second 747 airliner angle itself and slam into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.  We, as a country, have never been the same.

It's going on ten years since "that day" and I'm not ready to classify it as a tragedy or a painful history lesson.  Both are pretty appropriate.  I awoke "that day" never wondering about the historical ramifications of it, but today, I'm not so sure that it hasn't been the catalyst that has been ailing this country since those towers tumbled down.  What I'm saying is, I don't sense our country has truly recovered from the fact that almost 3000 Americans were killed and it has in one form or fashion had a serious effect on our collective psyche. Yes, we have killed Osama Bin Laden and our Armed Forces have performed admirably in taking the fight to the bad guys; Afghanistan is no longer a haven for the Taliban and watching that statue of Saddam Hussein being ripped from it's foundation was a beautiful thing...but...I don't feel any safer today in regards to our effort on terrorism as I did the morning following "that day."

Maybe it's because we have tried so hard to erase the memory of that painful event.  Even our government, the press and Hollywood have all but skirted around it and as much as I heard the battle cry, "Never Forget" the days following 9/11 we seem more interested in making sure there is an NFL season or what the Kardashians are doing.  Maybe it's me, but I just don't see us putting our best effort toward fighting real terrorism...because if we did...I would see more reminders of "that day" instead of waiting every ten years to see it pop up as the final question on Jeopardy.  Never forget America...never forget. 

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