I wrote this on the 10th anniversary, and it still rings true for me. I feel like even more of a constitutionalist these days as I read that document several times a year to fully understand my rights as a citizen. When you know all the rules, you can reclaim your time!
On this the eve of that September day, I think back on how I felt when we were attacked. I was going to the doctor’s for a horrible cough I developed. I was living in Providence, in a Dominican and Italian hood with an overweight lesbian mother of two who smoked cigarettes like a chimney. I was waiting in the waiting room when the first plane hit and didn’t see it. I got to the exam room and the television was on and I saw the second plane. My mouth dropped, I thought it was fake, but I knew it was very real. I don’t remember leaving the doctor’s. Next I knew I pulled over on the street in front of the CVS parking lot as I heard Howard Stern said one tower just fell. I instantly started crying, I couldn’t believe it. I got back home and turned on the news. I began to hear about the Pentagon, and the flight in Pennsylvania. I watched the news until I don’t know when. The girls came home from school, and I told them something bad had happened to our country. The oldest was 9 and the baby was 5, they understood something big and sad happened, but not really that we were attacked. I wonder what their memories are 10 years later.
Later that day I stepped outside and I saw ash on my car, the street, everything. New York was here with me. I remember after 9/11 and the months that followed, the anthrax threat and all, I began to feel American for the first time. I am a power to the people revolutionary thinker. And aren’t those the ideals of America? I had felt that I had a claim to the American personae, yet it eluded me somehow. I was part of a subgroup that will never be accepted as good enough or as equal. However, after 9/11 I realized that while yes some may not think I have that claim to America, I am an American. I had a friend tell me soon after the attacks, “damn right I am American, this is the best country in the fucking world, problems and all, and I wouldn’t live anywhere else!” I believe in what is right, just and that wrongs are punishable by law and order. I have friends in NYC and I was worried about their safety. This hit my home, and despite all of the violence here, we believe we’re safe from outside threats. The USSR is gone.
I was proud to donate to the firemen of Providence; I knew it would get to the firemen of NYC. I drove around for the next 3 years with an American Flag postcard in my windshield for all to see. I wanted to find out who did this. It’s something that united a country for a while. We will never forget. Then Katrina came and went and we forgot about them. Then the horrible tornados in the prairie states came and went and we forgot about them. Hurricanes hit our Eastern seaboard and with time we will forget about them too. Our country has a wicked past, and a seemingly wicked present with a daunting future. But it is the only home I know. And at least I am free to write these thoughts with no fear of being arrested, tortured or killed. For that reason alone I am proud to be an American.
My people died too many horrible deaths to be seen as a person first and an American second for me to denounce this country. I am the product of all the hopes and dreams of those Americans before me. So I say with the Spirit of the Revolution and The War between the States, “Don’t tread on me!!”