Sep 132001

Is there any way at all for me to describe the way I’m feeling about Tuesday’s events that we haven’t seen over and over again in the news? Can I possibly come up with another word to describe the feeling in my gut, the utter fear, the constant replay of those planes smashing into the World Trade Center in my head?

No, I really don’t believe there is.

I hung an American Flag out in front of my house today. When I bought this place, in December of 1999, the previous owner left a flag in the utility room. It has sat there the entire time I’ve been here. I tried to make sure it didn’t hit the ground, sure. I mean, I DID spend years in the Boy Scouts. Some of that shit is ingrained in my head. To this day I can spout the Scout Codes and Laws as if I were 12 again. Other than that, though, I never really paid it much mind. It didn’t seem important to me.

Part of the problem, you see, is that it’s just not hip to love your country anymore. Really, how often do you see members of my generation (the now approaching and in many cases over thirty-something Generation X) being patriotic? Do we stand up for the Pledge of Allegiance? Do we sing the national anthem? Do we get tears in our eyes on Memorial Day? NO! We scoff at it. We think it’s beneath us. We think it’s an archaic throwback to our grandparents time.

So, you see, it was actually with some sense of trepidation that I hung my flag today. I had to stop for a minute and think about why I was doing it. If I really felt patriotic, or if I was doing it just because I was supposed to. If my friends would understand, or if they would think I was being cheesy. It it really MEANT anything to me.

In the end I decided to risk appearing to be Velveeta and hang that blessed flag.

I AM proud to be an American. I always have been, even in the height of my discontent with it. During Operation Desert Storm, I ripped up my draft card in protest. Mind you, I didn’t do this and mail it to the draft board (I was rebellious, not stupid), but I was angry that my country was fighting in a war that I didn’t understand and I didn’t support. I still, however, loved being an American, and would not have dodged the draft had I been called (on a side note, I took steps to try and get registered as a conscientious objector. You can make me go, damnit, but you aren’t getting me to kill anyone). So today I put my flag up, and I was proud to be one of the many in my neighborhood that did. Times like this can bring out the best in us.

It can also bring out the worst.

I’ve talked to several people who have made absolutely moronic statements in the last few days. Things like, “I better not see anyone wearing a turban” or “I just want to go kill me a sand nigger.” What’s worse is that some of these comments have come from my family. I’ve also heard people talking about wanting to be secure so badly that they are willing to “be inconvenienced” a little more. I’ve heard talk about closing borders.

This kind of talk is insanity, and it is our responsibility as sane and logical members of this country to put an end to it NOW. Killing and hatred is evil, period. There are times that it is a necessary evil, but it is NEVER a good thing. We must hunt down those responsible. We MUST ensure that they will never do this again. We must rise above relishing in the task, however. We must not let hatred mire us down, because it reduces us. It makes us less, and that is unacceptable. It is also unacceptable to talk of closing borders, or restricting freedoms. If we change our way of life because of these attacks then the bad guys, even if they end up dying because of it, have won hands down.

That’s it. I’m spent. I want to sleep for 12 hours in a cold room under a thick blanket and try to get these images out of my head, but I can’t. I’ll be up tomorrow morning, watching the news, seeing the crashes all over again. Weather permitting, though, I’ll be hanging that flag again.

Friends, family…even strangers. I love you, and I am glad that you are alive to read this.

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