I remember only a few days very distinctly in my life. I think I'm blessed (and this may seem odd)... I don't remember many bad days at all. But the "everyday" day doesn't recall emotions much either. Nor do the crazy happy days. When I remember those "distinctive" days in my life, they are not good, bad or indifferent. They just come up in my memory now and again on a day like this.
I know it's so cliche to say it's my generation's turning point or conversation piece, today, 10 years after that horrible day. Mom? Sure, she knows where she was then. She also remembers where she was when Kennedy was shot. Dad was in the Korean Conflict, so he probably knows where he was not only when the armistice happened but where it was and where he was when it happened.
I was born in the very early 70s, a very safe age. I grew up in the prosperity of the 80s and didn't have that "where you were when?" until 9/11 happened 10 years ago today.
So it's going to sound callous to say that I'm privileged to know I have that now. No, I'm not happy I have it. I wish I had never had to experience that or tell my kids or grandkids or nieces and nephews who don't get it (thank God). But it also became something for me and my generation to pinpoint that part of life and time that defines us, like the Moon Landing, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War or the Energy Crisis of the 1970s that others knew before we (you readers) or I were too young to understand. I remember the time -- right after that day on 9/11/2001-- where we stopped being Black or White; Male or Female. And we all put or flew American flags on our cars or off the front steps of our homes. We were not Christians or Muslims or Jewish or even Atheists then. We were Americans. And we still are.
I'm not so much happy as I am honored and humbled now that I know when my mama still tells me where she was when Kennedy was shot that I can tell her I knew where I was when the first attack on my homeland was. That she can tell me that story, raising me in so much love in privilege and protection, that I now can understand how she might have felt that day, just knowing how *I* felt this day, 10 years ago.
Tragedy happens in everyday life. It may be personal: your marriage or long-term relationship falls apart, you lose your house, a loved one dies. I'm a firm believer that anyone who has to go through those things has to have time to be selfish. The "woe is me!" feeling? Is so valid and should be embraced. But after you're through that...the reason WHY you went through that? Is to teach the people behind you. And you can support them too. Maybe that was the point of having to go through it.
I'm up for that task. Are you?