Since it's after midnight, today is officially September 11, 2009. Among other things, I've come to think of this day as "National Military, Cop, and Firefighter Appreciation Day." These civil servants get so little appreciation for what they do, and often get little support from the government to execute their dutues. So 4 years ago, I decided to give Thank You cards to local military, police, and firefighter stations. They were so appreciative, I decided to continue the tradition in New York when I lived there. Now that I'm back in South Carolina, I see no reason to break tradition.
Since I was going to be up at the police station today anyway for issues regarding my recent arrest, I picked up some Thank You cards on the way and dropped one off at the downtown Law Enforcement Center. I even took one to the Detention Center next door, where I had been a guest over the weekend, to show there was no hard feelings. Then on my way home, I dropped by the local Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Recruiting stations to drop off more cards. I encourage anyone who appreciates what these folks do -- and what they stand for -- to adopt this tradition for himself. I paid $3.53 for Thank You cards today. How much do you think it means for them to know how much they're appreciated? Well worth the money and effort! Here's what I wrote:
To the Cops
Better a day early than a day late. Some of us will never forget what happened 8 years ago. To life, liberty, and happiness -- may you serve and protect them always.
To the Military
Better a day early than a day late. Some of us will never forget what happened 8 years ago. To life, liberty, and happiness -- may you always kick [expletive], and look pretty doing so, in their defense.
*Update: To the Local Fire Dept., delivered today (9/11)
Some of us will never forget what happened 8 years ago. To life, liberty, and happiness -- may you always serve to stoke the flames of these values.
I wrote about my 9/11 experience two years ago, and reprised it on my blog last year. Another new tradition in honor of this fateful day? Why not:
For me, September 11, 2001 began as a normal Tuesday morning in Greenville, SC. I got up, had breakfast, got dressed, and drove to StereoVideo, where I worked as a retail salesman. I arrived at work at about 8:30am. As usual, most of the staff met in the back of the store for a bull-and-smoking session before opening up. At about 8:50am, the owner (who was always late getting in) called to tell us that a plane had crashed into a building in New York City. We wanted to see what was going on, so we turned on the store.
StereoVideo is a high-end electronics store specializing in large, high-definition televisions and powerful audio systems. When we turned on the store, hundreds of thousands of dollars in audio-visual equipment brought the height of consumer technology to bear – to show us a scene of terror. The World Trade Center was on fire. The Sony high-def rear-projector shot rays of light on the wall, displaying a plume of smoke 10 feet tall. The $10k Infinity floor standing speakers boomed their built-in subwoofers as the second plane exploded on impact. It was a terrible spectacle of light and sound.
All day we watched – surrounded by 100 televisions, all showing the same nightmare. As the events of September 11 unfolded, StereoVideo continued to operate. I fought back tears as the wave of attacks continued. People kept coming into the store and would stay for hours, transfixed by images of destruction. To my utter shock, a few customers still wanted to chat about setting up their new home theatre system. So we loaded Shrek into a few of the DVD Players, and Princess Fiona pouted – next to images of tragic murder victims hurling themselves from the top of the World Trade Center. It was surreal.
After we closed the store, I went to a sports bar near the Blood Bank in downtown Greenville. All of the televisions were tuned to news channels, and the bar was alive with sad, angry, and patriotic discussion. I spoke with three or four strangers who shared my grief and rage. We all agreed that whoever was responsible for these attacks deserved prompt and utter destruction. We were at war.
As I approached the Blood Bank, I saw that I had to park half a mile away in order to get close to it. Many others had the same idea as me, and the place was mobbed with patriots offering their blood. A police officer that had just given blood advised me to come back the following day. The staff at the Blood Bank was overwhelmed. When I went the next day, they said to come back in a month, as they were already filled to capacity with blood donations.
In the days and weeks following the September 11 attacks, the country seemed to come together in a way I’d never seen before in my adult life. I finally understood why the adults around me were rejoicing so much when the Berlin Wall fell. Americans demanded justice, and a significant portion of the public had the moral courage to support an all-out war against Islamic Totalitarianism.
Unfortunately, that window of opportunity has passed. Most Americans seem to have forgotten what happened that Tuesday in 2001. It has become just one attack of many – perpetrated by some terrorist group or other – all tied-in to some nebulous “War on Terror” that is going nowhere fast. That is why, every year on the anniversary of September 11, I take the time to remember where I was that day. I remember where I was, how I felt, what I thought, and most importantly, what we need to do to make sure it never happens again.
Where were you?