This week, I don't want to discuss relationships, marriage or sex. Rather, I'd like to discuss remembrance. Time heals all wounds, or at least that's how the saying goes. Time certainly numbs the pain, but I don't know that every situation can be truly healed with the passing of years. The more horrific an event the longer it seems to stay with us.
Just ask anyone alive in 1941 about Pearl Harbor and you'll see what I mean.
The September 11 terrorist attacks on took place nine years ago and while I can personally say I won't ever forget the events of that day, I do think we've forgotten some of the lessons we learned from it.
I was a sophomore in college at UWM, it was a sunny, beautiful day out and I was debating whether or not to go to class or sit out on the porch and take advantage of the last fleeting days of summer. My roommate at the time worked in the dorms. She came racing home and immediately turned on the TV. For the next few hours we sat and watched in shock and horror as the second plane hit the towers and then of course they crumbled and fell. We saw the devastation at the Pentagon and the wreckage at the crash site in Pennsylvania.
Aside from the Columbine shootings, this was the most terrifying and unreal thing I'd ever seen in my nineteen years. I kept blinking hard, hoping to wake up from a nightmare.
I did go to class but my teacher said we didn't need to be there that afternoon. I walked in a fog over to the student union and bought an ice cream cone for no particular reason. Perhaps looking for the comfort of something familiar. For the next several days my friends and I just cried. We didn't know what to do, how to react. We simply watched the television and waited.
As the initial shock wore off and we began to learn more about what happened and why, our fear turned to anger. Anger that strong, fresh and focused is very dangerous. It causes irrational decision making and can ignite a fire within us, but not always a just fire. But through our anger shown something brighter, something better. We were one, with each other and with all suffering Americans. We cared about the stories, about those who died and those who had lost. For the first time in a long time, we reached out to people we didn't even know. There was an overwhelming feeling of countrywide accord, we were united. I had never felt so proud to be an American as I did those first few months as we all bonded together in our sadness, as well as, our honor.
Just nine years ago we swore we'd never forget. My fear is that too many of us have. We haven't forgotten the images of that day. The lives that were lost, those who ran in rather than out, or those who have since given their lives in war. But all too easily, we've lost that feeling of caring about our neighbors, our fellow Americans. We've gone from holding hands with strangers at candlelight vigils to hating one another for our thoughts and opinions. We no longer care if we are all Americans, we have again fallen victim to judging one another based on our color, our politics and our religion.
When we thought we had no strength left, we were the strongest. We turned what was one of the worst days in our history into a reason to wave at a passing fire truck, to shake the hand of a soldier and to tie yellow ribbons on anything we could get our hands on. Our pride was evident to the world over and we weren't looking at one another as anything but fellow countrymen and were judging each other only on the depth of our character. And the world took notice. We received millions of messages from around the world, with their sympathies and their encouragement and their respect for our unity. Why did we forget this so quickly?
Here we are nearly a decade later and some would choose to use this day as an excuse to demonstrate religious hatred rather than remember the lessons we learned. In terms of ignorant, hateful people burning books... I think history has already given us plenty of examples of this. In the United States you certainly have the right to do so, but it says much more about your level of intolerance and cultural stupidity than any impact it could have on terrorism. Muslims are not terrorists. Religious extremists and those who wish to create terror with no regard for life and freedom have no more to do with the Qur'an than the KKK have to do with the Bible.
If what we lose or give up as a result of 9/11 is our tolerance for differing opinions, religious and political, doesn't that give the terrorists exactly what they wanted? Doesn't that undermine the very freedoms we stand for as a nation? Doesn't that destroy us, rather than them?
Today, I won't be burning flags or books, and I certainly won't be wasting my time watching anyone else do so. I'll be thinking about those that senselessly lost their lives and remembering the tremendous feeling it gave me to stand united as an American.
No, the OnMilwaukee.com sex columnist's real name is not Sarah Foster. (Foster is the model/actress that played an ex-lover of Vincent Chase in the first season of "Entourage.") In reality, our sex columnist is a Wisconsin native with a degree in journalism and a knack for getting people to talk to her.
Sarah never considered herself an "above average" listener. Others, however, seem to think differently. Perhaps she has a sympathetic tone or expression that compels people to share their lives and secrets with her despite how little they know her. Everyone from the girl that does her hair to people in line at the grocery store routinely spill the details of their lives and relationships to Sarah, unprompted but typically not unwanted. It’s strange to her that people would do this, but she doesn’t mind. Sarah likes that she can give advice even if it is to complete strangers.
So why the pseudonym? Simple. People tell Sarah these things because for some reason they trust her. They believe she cares and therefore will keep their secrets in a locked vault the same way a best friend or therapist would. Sarah won't name names, but that vault is now unlocked.