It Was Nine Years Ago Today

Remember where you were exactly nine years ago today, the tenth of September 2001?  Me either.  But I remember the feeling.

It was an innocence much like growing up in the 1970s in the rural South.  A time when, subconsciously, you knew that there was something going on in the world but you weren't sure what. 

My father insisted that I stop playing in the backyard to watch breaking news of some airplane landing on an airstrip in a distant country, a man walking down the steps, and kneeling on all fours to kiss the ground.  My father pumped gas that cost 37¢ a gallon into our AMC Gremlin and complained when the price shot up.  My father plowed several rows of vegetables at my grandfathers farm and got upset when the collard greens had more holes than greens.

I didn't understand my own innocence until the next day and the years that followed.  I felt like I had been thrust unwillingly into a maturity and adulthood that I didn't want or even know existed.  My former innocence was a flickering memory. 

As in an old cartoon when a character gets hit over the head and forgets everything only to get hit over the head and have his memory restored, it took another large event to return my innocence to me.  During the summer, my neighborhood experienced a weather disaster that left everyone without electricity for 48 hours. 

As darkness engulfed the individual houses, the neighbors on my block gathered on a centrally located porch lit with candles and glo-sticks for the kids.  One neighbor hauled over their fire pit to the hosting neighbor's front walk.  Everyone brought out their best scotch, tequila, wine, marshmallows, ice cream, and cheese. 

Nine years ago tomorrow, our innocence was attacked because of how we lived.  We were one of the few countries in the world that didn't have armed military patrolling our airports.  We went about our daily lives without our children learning how to duck and cover.  We celebrated our achievements and shared our innovations (the Internet, GPS, heart-valve surgery, Velcro, the light bulb, the assembly line) with the world.  We were a bit cocky and a bit too big from our britches.  But we were happy.  And that happiness really vexed others who weren't happy with their own lives. 

If living well is the best revenge, then reclaiming our national happiness and our former innocence is the ultimate victory.  Some people may accuse me of Pollyannaness or being an ostrich with my head in the sand.  Perhaps.  But in the 1970s, my father, who was active in the local civic theatre, portrayed The Mime in The Fantasticks.  The most memorable song from that play keeps running through my head today.

Try to remember the kind of September
When life was slow and oh, so mellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
When grass was green and grain was yellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
When you were a tender and callow fellow.
Try to remember, and if you remember,
Then follow.


  1. Sadly I think that we are bound and determined to have a holy war with the Muslims so I see things as getting much worse before they get better.

    I saw the Fantasticks on Broadway when I was a kid. Gosh that was a long time ago.

  2. I remember that song very well..and it goes thru my my occasionally.

    It was a bright glorious day September 11th, that sad sad day when we were shamefully attacked.

    I have to say it's not us trying to have a holy war so-called..it's them. And they're doing a frighteningly "good" job of it too.