Sunday, September 11, 2011
9/11/11 Ten Years and One Tattoo Later
Last night at 8:30, I mentioned to Justin that we needed a flag. We did not have a flag and tomorrow is the 10 year anniversary of 9/11 and we need an American flag and we need it tonight. I was so moved by the fact that the last flag we had got shredded by the weather awhile back and we hadn't gotten around to replacing it that I (yes, me, the agoraphobe) drove in the dark to the local Lowe's and walked in, thinking the flags would either be sold out or right up front. When I walked into the store, I didn't see a flag display, so I asked the woman standing at customer service, who pointed me down an aisle. As I was walking down the aisle, another employee asked if he could help me. I replied, "Yes. I need a big-ass American flag." "Oh, right this way. They're right around this corner."
He took me around the corner of the aisle and sure enough. There were the American flags. Flags alone, flags with flagpoles...a selection of flags.
This brought back a painful memory of how badly I wanted to show my patriotism ten years ago. Although I did not lose anyone I loved on September 11, 2001, I was in mourning with the rest of our country. And there were no flags to be had, not even on EBay. I finally found one that attached to the window of my car and flapped and got destroyed after about two days of driving that I paid $50 for. The patriotism of our nation burst forth from a stunned people, momentarily united despite of their party affiliation, in anger and mourning. Flags appeared on every front porch across America shortly after that fateful day.
A month later, I was still seething with anger that someone had had the audacity to attack us, the United States, the bravest and strongest nation on earth. Someone was going to pay. Someone needed to pay. The entire nation wanted to go to war against whoever it was who had so brazenly attacked us.
I wanted to show my patriotism not just in owning an American flag. I needed something more permanent, something that wouldn't get beaten up by the weather or disappear over time. And so I did this:
This is on the outside of my right ankle. I went into the tattoo parlor not knowing what I wanted until I got there. And then I realized that I needed a way to commemorate the events that changed us forever on that crystal clear fall day ten years ago. And it is by far my favorite of the four tattoos I am sporting now at the age of 47. I wonder sometimes what the employees of the nursing home will think about my tattoos when I am 87 and drooling, but what the hell. Maybe they'll just think I'm patriotic. And remember.
It took ten years, but our Navy Seals once again went in and did the job they are so good at and executed the man behind the attacks. And I would be lying if I didn't say it felt good when I heard it.
Today we mourn the loss of men, women, and children from countries all over the world because of some extremists' hatred of America. It makes me mad that they died knowing they had succeeded in their mission and I really hope that when they got to hell, the devil had 72 virgins with leprosy waiting for them. Virgins who were not of the same sexual orientation.
We teach our children that it is wrong to hate. But hate I did. I have no problem with organized religion. This wasn't organized religion and we know it doesn't represent all Muslims. It was perpetrated by a few zealots who took their religious teachings to an extreme and decided that they hated Americans and we must die. I think what made me (and so many others) so angry is that it didn't matter what Americans died, as long as a whole bunch did.
I am a proponent of peace and I hate war. But when my son told me he wants to fly helicopters for the Army, my first reaction was, "Hell, yeah!" If he decides that is what he really wants to do, there will of course be the mom part of me that worries and wants to keep him from going. But there will also be that American part of me that is super proud that one of my kids wants to be a part of our incredible military and serve his country.
So, today, we remember. We vow to always remember. Today I am proud to be a tattooed mama of 47.