Every once in awhile,
mostly unexpectedly in casual conversation, I am asked the
question, "Where were you when...?"
Certain pivot points
in history are searingly momentous, and my memories of them are
wildly vivid, sometimes painfully so, decades later. As
we exchange experiences, I am instantly thrown back to that time
and place, reliving those moments.
Once again, I feel the
stresses of that day. As they arise in the telling, the emotions
let me know that I haven't quite given up the ghosts of that day.
The years may separate me from the events, but vestiges of
unhealed emotional wounds remain.
Talking it out, I am
given an opportunity to wrangle, confront and deal with these
emotions, still alive, however post-traumatic. The passage of time
has its benefits. During the interim, I've learned more about the
ways of the world and the human condition. The subsequent
investigations and analyses have helped me to make sense of
Having grown some into
wisdom and maturity, I am better able to place once
incomprehensible, shocking events into a historical, human, and
spiritual perspective and context. As I share, unresolved, knotted
emotions unravel, releasing me from their bondage.
And in the sharing
comes a healing.
These are the answers
that spring into mind whenever I am asked, "Where were you
was killed, November
22, 1963: I was with my
classmates, sitting at a wooden desk in a 7th grade classroom at Pahoa High & Elementary School,
Pahoa, Hawai`i, on the morning that my tearful
teacher, Mrs. Francis Ho, announced that President John F. Kennedy
had been assassinated.
State students were killed, May
4, 1970: I was alone at my desk in my freshman dorm
room, Foster Quadrangle, Indiana University, Bloomington,
Indiana, the afternoon I heard over the radio that students had
been shot dead at Kent State University in Ohio.
28, 1986 : I was alone in the
bedroom, getting ready for work in the morning, as I
watched the space shuttle Challenger -- with fellow islander Astronaut
Ellison Onizuka onboard -- go down on live television.
As with Kennedy's
assasination, the Kent State shootings, and Challenger's failed
flight, the events of September 11, 2001 now join this list of
was terrorized, September
11, 2001: I was standing in
my family room with my husband in front of the
television, as we watched in horrified silence as
terrorists attacked America by plunging commercial airlines
into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
of us will forever remember exactly where we were on that
day. This pivotal day
in history and its image are seared into our memories, individually and collectively.
In the days ahead and, God willing, in the years to come, we'll be
asking each other this question. Synchronistically, as I write this,
Oprah Winfrey is asking Tiger
"Where were you when the tragedy (of September 11, 2001)
occurred?" (He was
playing championship golf in St. Louis)
just an ordinary person without a claim to fame or notoriety. No
will ever interview me and ask the question of me. Most
of our answers will never be heard, although we were each
It's up to us
ordinaries. Let us ask each other. Let us share. Let
us talk it out. If Candace
Pert, Ph.D. is right, and I believe she is, our answers are
equally valuable as any celebrity's to our individual and collective healing.
that spirit, I, an ordinary person, offer you my answer for
your perusal. With unpolished words, what follows is a faithful
recording in words of my experience and reactions of September 11,
2001. Unshaped by others' and the media coverage that
followed, my raw emotions, unsorted and from the gut, were put
into words, however jumbled and inadequate.
Share your experience
and your feelings with your kith and kin. We will remember, and in
remembering, we will heal.
entry for September 11, 2001
journalizing the above entry, I turned on the television to learn that a
second case of Anthrax
infection has surfaced.
mentally-imbalanced man, believing they were going to crash into the
Sears Tower, got into the cockpit. He was taken down by
seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy ride.
you. Be strong. Stay safe.
"Life is a Gift."
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