After lunch today, I went “jaunting” with my daughter for about an hour, an activity that would take some explaining, so I will save it for another blog entry. Anyway, on our way down Tom Wheeler Road, I realized that the rain (combined with the wind of previous days) was doing a nice job of knocking some of the leaves off the already turning trees. Hence, the photo. I can’t believe the color is coming so quickly this year. Much different from six years ago.
On September 11, 2001, the only trees that were dedicated to a color change stood on the road outside the submarine base near my home. It was crisp at dawn but had warmed nicely by mid-morning; it was a beautiful, exceptionally clear day. It was also the first day of “class” for our homeschool that year. My daughter, eleven years old at the time, was working on a spelling test. The television was off. Sometime around 9:00 AM, my mother-in-law phoned from Minnesota, her voice somewhat panicked, at which point I tuned into CNN to see what was unfathomable. By the time the plane hit the Pentagon, my husband was home for an extremely early lunch break at Home Depot. I can still see him standing by the back door watching the news coverage while I sat with my daughter at the kitchen island.
A few hours earlier, as I moved through my morning routine, a woman named Ruth McCourt, the resident of a nearby town, and her four-year-old daughter, Juliana Valentine McCourt, were preparing to fly on United Airlines Flight 175. Total strangers to me, it is possible that their plane flew over my house that day as I live between Boston and New York City. It amazes me to think how many people were engaged in so much personal activity that morning, how many decisions were made (or not made) that had such a profound effect on so many lives.
For example, what if Ms. McCourt had postponed her trip at the last minute? She would now be enjoying a relationship with a teenage daughter who would be entering high school. What if Mr. McCourt had joined his wife? An entire family would have died that morning instead of one person being left behind. What if the courageous people onboard United Airlines Flight 93 had decided to do nothing, instead of thwarting the plans of a small group of madmen? The world would be a very different place. But then, the world is a very different place.
I watched a news magazine program several years ago where it was reported that a museum official, in rejecting an exhibit on the great men and women of history, stated that people don’t matter, only institutions matter. I couldn’t disagree more. On September 11th, people were the only thing that mattered: the people who died, the people who survived, the people who were heroes, the people who comforted others, the people who were comforted…it was all about people. It is still all about people, people that we should honor and remember annually.
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. --- Deuteronomy 4:9 NIV
Inspired by a little-known picture book from the pen of Bethany Tudor, this is a diary, of sorts, where I document some of my thoughts, activities, and ideas as I explore the challenges met by the characters in the story: hard work, the care and nurture of others, housekeeping skills, life changes, charity, community, and cooperation, among others. Like Samuel and Samantha, the ducks in the tale, I struggle and succeed, cope and celebrate, work and play, handling the tasks that come my way. I invite you to join me on my journey.