AS I SEE IT - 9/09/2003:
Remembering the day of horror...
by: Bob Magee "Where were you when the world stopped turnin'
It's now been two years since one of the most tragic moments in United States history... since that bright, clear September morning, a morning like any other morning when millions of people went to their jobs, went to school, and participated in life's everyday activities.
Just another morning... grabbing another cup of coffee... complaining about the morning traffic on the way to work.
Suddenly, at 8:46 am, September 11, 2001... without warning... everything changed.
The world watched in disbelief as the twin towers of the World Trade Center....these seemingly invincible symbols of New York City and of world commerce... were in flames.
The world watched as the preeminent symbol of American military strength...The Pentagon, burned.
Hundreds of heroic fire fighters charged into the burning towers of the World Trade Center and into the Pentagon, over 300 never to return.
In a matter of hours... over 3,000 men, women and children in New York City, Washington, DC, and Schwenksville, PA lost their lives to a vicious terrorist attack against the United States and the citizens of the free world... a moment inconceivable to Americans and to the world... a tragedy beyond anything that could be imagined in a country that has not seen war on its shores since December 7, 1941.
It was an immense, traumatic national experience....and a traumatic experience for that segment of the world that still views America, despite all its faults, as a beacon of hope.
There is a painfully unique, but all too correct, way to look at it.
As Rabbi Marc Gelman said at the Sunday, September 23, 2001 memorial service at Yankee Stadium:
"On that day, one person died 3,000 times. We must understand this and all catastrophes in such a way, for big numbers only numb us to the true measure of mass murder... The real horror of that day was not in its bigness, but in its smallness, in the small searing death of one person 3,000 times. And that person was not a number but our mother, our father, our grandpa, our grandma..."
Despite all the thousands of cases of horror in household after household and town after town... the people of New York City, of America, and of the world, while still in shock, sorrow, and outrage beyond measure...responded.
While September 11th was America's most tragic moment, the moments following September 11th were very likely the finest moments in American history. People responded, coming to Ground Zero, literally tearing away rubble with their bare hands. They overwhelmed Red Cross centers to give blood for those precious few who were pulled out from the rubble of the World Trade Center. They went to every possible police, fire, and EMS station to ask how they could help. They donated hundreds of millions of dollars to 9/11 related charities.
Even the red-headed stepchild of entertainment...professional wrestling... joined the rest of America in pitching in and doing what it could to help.
Wrestling promotions held various events commemorating the events of September 11th, designed to raise funds for its victims, including: Combat Zone Wrestling, Independent Wrestling Federation/New Jersey,Special Events Promotions of North Carolina, IWA Mid-South Championship Wrestling, Liberty All-Star Wrestling, Maryland Championship Wrestling, NWA-Jersey, Virginia Championship Wrestling, Assault Championship Wrestling, Chaotic Wrestling, Premier Wrestling Federation, NWA-New England, Yankee Pro Wrestling, Southcoast Wrestling, Primal Conflict Wrestling, and All American Wrestling Alliance.
WWE lent out its (now closed) WWF/E New York restaurant/nightclub facility for firefighters, police officers and other emergency workers as a respite site.
The only comparison that one can make to September 11, 2001, is to events such as Pearl Harbor, something I know of only through the fact that my father named me after a cousin of his... who is still buried with the USS Arizona, Robert Thomas Magee.
My generation, and those born after it, has not actually experienced wartime or a moment reminiscent of it on a national scale until September 11, 2001. While it is true that we experienced the tragedy of Vietnam and thousands of American lives lost; it is a fact that the United States itself has not experienced an attack on its soil since December 7, 1941.
September 11th is a day for most of us to remember, whether or not we directly lost a friend, loved one or co-worker. Most importantly, along the lines of what I discussed in the last column on Brian Hildebrand, it'll be a time to remember and celebrate life.
Oddly enough in my own local area, that opportunity happens each year right at the beginning of September... the same time as the yearly anniversaries of Brian Hildebrand's passing and September 11th.
Down the street from where I live in Cherry Hill is a Polish Catholic religious order called the Little Servant Sisters of the Immaculate Conception. They've done a monster-sized Polish food and music "Country Fair" festival the first Sunday of September each year for the last 35 years, with people coming in from several Northeast states. This year's "Country Fair" (although our suburb is now far from anything "country") was the largest in my memory with much celebration and money raised for the good sisters to do their work year-round.
So literally right around the corner from me, there's a celebration of life at the same time each year, coincidentally or not...as the remembrances of those leaving us that I spoke of.
Hopefully you'll find your own opportunity this year to celebrate life as we approach September 11th.
Until next time...
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)