Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering and Teaching

9/11 Rembrance Program
Terry Greene, me, and our campus president Dr. Margarita Cabral-Maly
All this week I’ve been trying to explain to my girls what happened 10 years ago today. We had our campus remembrance program on Wednesday, and I invited our speaker, Terry Greene, to have dinner with us Wednesday night. We invited Terry to speak at the College as a representative of the organization Peaceful Tomorrows, which is comprised of family members of those lost on 9/11. Terry lost her brother Donnie on Flight 93 that went down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Her story was touching, but more touching was her take on what happened that day, and everything that’s happened since. The members of Peaceful Tomorrows came together because of their shared belief that the response to what happened that day was not more violence, but rather a fight for peace. We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner with Terry at our house, not as the family member of someone who lost a brother on that day, but just as another interesting, loving human being who enjoyed casual conversation over a plate of spaghetti.

Old Glory at our house
Our house proudly displaying Old Glory today
This certainly wasn’t a first, by any means, as Benny has gotten used to me bringing home random musicians, speakers and performers for dinner over the years, but something about our dinner with Terry Wednesday night was different than the rest. We didn’t talk much about what brought her to Jacksonville and our dinner table. Really the only time the subject came up was when we told her about Benny’s plan to travel up to Happy Valley for the Penn State/Alabama game this weekend. Terry had already received news from her state representative that her travel over to Shanksville for the 10th anniversary memorial service might be hampered by flooding in the area; that same flooding might have affected Benny’s travels. I think what made it different goes back to Terry’s outlook on life. Every one of us faces loss at some point in our lives. We lose loved ones to cancer; we lose loved ones to car accidents; we lose loved ones to suicide; we lose loved ones to the natural course of life. Terry lost a loved one that day, as did about 3,000 other families, to essentially what comes down to politics, religion and hate, and her view on that loss touched me deeply. She’s not angry or vengeful, and never has been, and she chooses to remember her happiest days with her brother rather than the day she lost him. So instead of being angry, she’s hopeful; she’s hopeful for a better tomorrow for her children and mine. I hope that my girls can learn from that.

The girls with members of Fire Station 37 crew
The girls with the firemen from Station 37
Today at 8:46am, the time the first plane hit the first tower 10 years ago today, the girls and I were hanging our beautiful American flag off of the front porch. The flag was Benny’s grandfather’s, who was a veteran of WWII, so I thought it fitting to use today. After that, we took a batch of brownies we baked yesterday to one of our local fire stations to say thank you to the firemen and first responders for their service. The firemen and I talked about how difficult it is to explain what happened on this day to children, particularly those who weren’t even born on this day 10 years ago. But they are our future, and they are our hope. So in our way, and in a way they can understand, it’s our responsibility to remember and to help them learn. A batch of brownies for a group of firemen miles and miles away from where tragedy struck that day was my girls first step in gaining that understanding.

3 comments:

Becca said...

I enjoyed reading this. Thank you for sharing. :-)

Gwynnie B said...

Kelly, I'm in tears after reading this. Good tears over Terry's beautiful attitude, and you being such an amazing woman and mother. So happy to know you, sistah =-) Thank you for sharing this touching and very meaningful post with us.

Btw, love your home, and the fact you're the only one who "got" Monarch porn...*snort*

xo
Gwynnie

Kelly Warren said...

Thanks, Becca and Gwynnie.

Gwynnie, I'm snorting again over your *snort*!