911 Eve - We Did Not Know Who We Were To Each Other
Just a mile from the Pentagon the silence was drowned out with the smell of fear this 911 Eve. All cameras were focused on the Pentagon and the wonderful hero's still hard at work controlling the events of that day. CNN, Fox and all the others were reporting on the biggest news story since Pearl Harbor. POTUS was back in the Oval Office directing the responses in NYC as well as here. The sun had just disappeared over the western horizon where it seemed all was calm. How so many pinched themselves wondering why they believed living in a major city like Washington or New York was so important on this particular day. Somehow on this day the western front was running away from all who seemed to be trapped by the events and their dreams of an important life in an important world city.
Something like this would never happen in say, Kent, Ohio or Tyler, Texas, right?
There was a strange eeriness on the streets that 911 Eve only one mile from the Pentagon event. The burnt offerings smelled different, almost like a forbidden scent. Eerier still were the faces of the "one mile way" people on the streets. What many might not know is that, within a three mile radius of the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia exists one of the robust Muslim communities in the USA. The corridor known as Columbia Pike is home to thousands of Islamic friends. The Starbucks at Bailey Crossroads is a meeting place for hundreds of Muslim men who speak in their various Middle Eastern dialects while sipping steaming bold roast blends.
The Muslim women shop at the various middle eastern groceries seeking baharat and cardamon for their various feasts.
Yet this 911 Eve was very different indeed. On this 911 Eve they were wandering the Pike called Columbia seeking answers that were not forthcoming. As they walked about stumbling into each other they could not seek the comforts of each other because, on this 911 Eve we did not know who we were to each other. All our friends became our unknown enemies this 911 Eve, and more frightening, they became enemies to themselves.
The dust and debris was still flying in the air over the heads of the "Pike dwellers and an orange glow still beamed from the Pentagon only "one mile" away this 911 Eve. I walked toward a 7/11 over a small hill on the "Pike" with an exhausted fear in my gait, the billowing orange smoke still ablaze and the scent of fear in the air. I arrived at the parking lot of the 911 7/11 on the "Pike" and saw men broken and in tears afraid to make eye contact with their fellow men. I approached a man in his late 60's early 70's who offered his hands to me as if to say "handcuff me now." I pushed his hands to his side and reached out to embrace him with a hug of welcome.
Inside me, my anger raged towards those who had done this atrocity yet my arms were strong and embracing.
I wandered away looking down at the pavement, kicking the falling debris from my path and I wondered if we would ever come to love our brothers and sisters in any meaningful way. Would that anger ever subside? I can say, with joy, that I believe it has started to subside and people are understanding for the first time what we mean to each other. No President can restore trust in each other. No political party can help us overcome fears that are born of events. We, as individuals must reach down inside ourselves and take a good deep look at ourselves. From whence does the distrust come, and, is it really fear or a racist prejudice that is the source of the angst?
Did we find a reason to publicly hate people we already hated before?
The Islamic friends living on the "Pike" called "Columbia" certainly asked themselves this 911 Eve and I would suggest every "Eve" since.