We’re recovering from September 11th

flag pin for 9-11

We’re recovering from September 11th
by Janelle Meraz Hooper
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“We done good.” My Hispanic grandmother used to say that after our family had survived its latest crisis. We were a houseful of women. Leaky roofs, plumbing problems, and skunks in the backyard often tested our resolve. I thought of her this morning when I realized that it’s almost September 11th again.

It’s occurred to me that I’ve never been so proud to be an American. That’s really saying something because, coming from a military family, I’ve always been fiercely patriotic. Now that I look back on September 11th, we done good.

The large-scale recovery that I’ve read about and observed on national television has been impressive. Patriotic books have been written. Songs have been composed. They done good.

But I’m just as proud of the recovery that I’ve noticed on a small, local scale as I am of what I’ve observed on national television and heard on the radio.The American Spirit is everywhere. We’ve all noticed the flags flying from porches, mailboxes, and cars. Last week, when I left a parking garage in Tacoma, the attendant took my ticket and handed me an American flag. I didn’t ask her (I wish I had), but I think the money for the flags came out of her own pocket. She done good.

Did you happen to meet my friend Linda after the crisis? Linda, an exemplary artist, found her own way to recover. She handled her grief by sitting and artfully painting a purse-full of wooden hearts in an American flag motif. Then, she glued pins to their backs and hit the road. Everywhere she went, whenever she saw someone who looked like they needed a hug, she’d stop them, put her arms around them, and give them a pin. Yep. I said give. Linda wasn’t out to make a buck. She was out to help heal some grief. She has given out literally hundreds of stars and stripes pins. I’m so proud to know her. She done good.  (a photo of one of her pins is above.)

Our children emptied their piggy banks and sent the cash to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to help the children in Afghanistan. And this wasn’t just a “keep busy” project for our younger generation. Firsthand, I observed the trauma in my six-year-old grandson’s eyes when he saw a man in a white truck with red and blue markings on its side reach into his mailbox and “steal” the money he was sending to our president for the children of Afghanistan. So often, our children amaze me. They done good.

Some of us are just realizing how much we hurt from the bombing in New York. We pushed the grief so far down inside that it has taken years for it to surface. We weren’t ready for more grief. There’s been so much in our lifetimes—Korea, Viet Nam, Desert Storm, and the rest—but we handled it, each in our own way. We done good.

If we get more trouble, we’ll handle that too. Out of the rubble—of New York and our hearts—has come a fierce survival instinct and a love of country that runs deeper than the Grand Canyon and wider than the Columbia. “Don’t tread on me!” we warn those who would take our freedom away. And if they decide to try, “Bring it on!” we say. Someday, the history books will have the last word on September 11th. When the next world generation grows up, let them read the record and say, “They done good.”

Janelle Meraz Hooper, an indie writer, is the author of Free Pecan Pie and Other Chick Stories and other books, short stories, and plays. This short story book was published by iUniverse and the stories are suitable for ages YA and up..

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Two Windows on Ground Zero, a comment

september 11th graphicTwo Windows on Ground Zero
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My website: Janelle Meraz Hooper

    September 11th found me stuck at home alone with only a 38-inch screen TV, and a large living room window.

   I could have done without the big screen TV. This was one time a one-inch screen would have been too big—too painful to watch. Over and over and over I watched the planes hit the WTC towers in New York City.

   A feeling of being trapped overcame me as I looked out the living room window. No sign of the tragedy was visible in the surrounding homes. Not a person was in sight. Maybe it was a nightmare—but no—there it was on CNN. On ABC. On CBS. On Fox. On CBUT, the Canadian channel. I turned to Univision, the Spanish-speaking channel, and saw a blazing banner: Bajo (Low) Attack!

   I must have paced between the TV and the window thirty or forty times. Looking at the TV, looking out the window. Still no sign of life in my neighborhood. Where could everybody be? At the time, after a surgery, I couldn’t leave my home, but they were all fully mobile. I can’t explain the intense need I felt to see a human—especially an American human.

   Suddenly, A little dark blue import, driven by an elderly gentleman, raced up my neighbor’s long driveway. Attached to the back window of the car was an American flag. A message was painted against the dark glass in white paint: GOD BLESS AMERICA!

   While I was waiting for him to come by again, I heard cars honking down the hill. Soon, a car full of hollering teenagers flew by my house. The car was painted all over with patriotic messages, and a young man was fully reclined on the hood holding up an American flag. He was wearing a shirt with an all-over pattern in red, white, and blue stars and stripes. Suddenly, I felt connected.

   Dragging my bandaged body along with me, I carefully went downstairs to get our flag out of the closet. When I got to our front porch, I was disappointed to discover that my husband had removed the flag holder from the front side of the house the last time he painted. Or had it just rusted off? Anxious to communicate with passersby, I stuck the flag in a huge flowerpot by my front door and limped back to my television and my window. The window was a lot easier to watch.

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