Ten years ago, I awoke in the middle of the night with a roaring headache, so intense that I couldn't sleep. I went to our guest room so I wouldn't wake My Beloved and, after several hours, finally got back to sleep. I have always wondered if in some way I perceived the evil that was brewing that night. He woke me with the news that New York and Washington had been attacked.
My own personal reaction was stunned disbelief and hurt. I couldn't figure out, and I still can't, how the attackers could live with us for years and not see that, for all their flaws, Americans are pretty well-meaning, kind people. I have lived in three other countries for just a year each and I fell in love with the people of those countries and became fascinated with their cultures in just that short time. Our attackers lived among us for years but held on to their hate; how could that be? I am still baffled.
I didn't agree with the retaliation of bombing Afghanistan - I was one of those who sent a little packet of rice to then-President Bush, imploring him to send those people aid rather than explosives. And I certainly didn't agree with the invasion and occupation of Iraq, which had zero to do with Al Qaeda in any case and was clearly just Shrub's way of impressing his slightly more impressive father and Cheney's way of starting another war for Halliburton to profit from. Disgusting stuff. Better writers than I have deplored the loss of America's standing and respect in the world as a result.
I'm not usually a flag-waver; American doesn't need blindly loyal citizens. America needs critical, contentious, conscientious citizens who question authority loudly and demand kinder treatment for those who have less. But I have my flag out today. I don't fly it thinking that we were completely without fault in those terrible attacks - I know that actions so dreadful are never simply one-sided. But I do fly it in remembrance for the people who died in the twin towers, for the people who crashed their plane in Shanksville, for the firefighters and policemen who lost their lives, and for the folks in the Pentagon who gave theirs.