Saturday, September 11, 2010

I'm not quite there yet.

 Today is 9/11 and I am trying to take a big step, but I'm still not quite where I need to be. I am still bordering on denial and some other place I haven't figured out yet.
 I never watch any of the 9/11 stuff on TV, when anything that comes on in relation to this subject I automatically change the channel. If I am not in charge of the remote, I leave the room. I don't even watch commercials for shows about this incident. Sorry, I still have real problems dealing with it and I don't think at this point it will ever get much better.
 I won't tell you where I was, or what I thought or what I felt. It does not matter a lick to me, why should it make a difference to you? Just like in the CISD sessions, I do not need to share, thank you very much, now may I leave?
 However 9/11 did affect a lot of my friends, family, and brothers in the Service and still does today. I spent nearly 6 months collecting the courage to call one of my closest friends from my youth who I knew would be working in the towers at thar time of day. He was running late that day and survived. After a cheerful back-slapping reunion on the phone I hung up and cried for an hour. I was so sure he was lost.
 Two members of my Department went down to ground zero and worked for 4 days until they were relieved. They were first assigned to do recoveries of the Firefighters that never made it out of their rigs when tower two came down on them. After that, I'm not sure what they did. It is still too soon for them to re-live the event and share it with me. I am not about to ask them to talk about it, they will tell me someday, or not, as they choose. I do know that when they returned, one of them got a hotel room in town because he didn't want to see his family yet, and he spent 24 hours trying to get hold of his emotions before he could see his wife and children again. He told me a few details, but they are so private and painful I will not share them here. as a matter of fact, I won't ever share them with anyone.
 Another friend of mine in Law Enforcement went down on special assignment for the first month, and then 1 week a month for the next year. Another close friend spent almost 2 years working on identification of remains. We are in an area that is close enough that everybody knew somebody that was either in the towers or supposed to be in the towers on that day. I could go no where without hearing somebody's story. I could not get away from it and still can't.
 Consequently. I closed my mind to all discussion and references to that terrible event. One of my co-workers wanted me to watch a show about a conspiracy theory connected to the event last year. I respectfully explained that I would 'rather not'. He asked me again and again. He had a technical interest and wanted my opinion as another Engineer. Finally, I gave in and tried to watch it. I got through more than half of it before I turned it off. The next day at work I told him how much I saw and what I thought of the technical merits presented. He wanted to know why I didn't watch the whole thing and I just said I could not finish, 'sorry'. He pushed and said I really needed to see the end to get the conclusions. I snapped, "Bill, how dare you? You have no idea the pain you've caused me to do what I have done and now you want me to do it again?! I did not sleep all night, and will likely not sleep again tonight. It's a freaking TV show. I don't need to think about this stuff again, I'm not ready yet." He didn't get it. He thought I'd lost my mind. Perhaps I had.
 But I may be getting better. Later this morning I will be attending my first ever 9/11 Memorial Service. It's a big step for me. If we get through it and it degenerates into the usual discussions afterward about recent events, apparatus, and fire service scuttlebutt, that will be fine. If the conversations change to "where were you on that day", I think it will be time for me to go. I'm not ready to do that yet.
 I think of the 343 every day because I see reminders everywhere. I also think of all the EMS personnel and Police officers that we lost. I know that this could happen again anytime, and involve any of us, with no warning. We are a bit better trained now, but the event could be overwhelming none the less. One thing is for sure, prepared or not, good people will offer their lives in the Service of others without a moments thought, just as they did  9 years ago.
 I deeply regret that our Government and political leaders lack the backbone to provide the needed support to the rescue personnel and their families that were left behind and still suffering. As an American I stand ashamed of how we have treated those who offered the supreme sacrifice and yet survived to suffer lasting torment of their injuries while being cast aside by the people they served. How short is the memory of these political leaders? These same leaders who stand before a Fire Station collecting campaign photos and then turn around and vote "no" on the bills to supply benefits to these very same people. It disgusts me.
 So yeah, you could say I'm a bit conflicted and having some issues dealing with all this. September 11th is still a very personal and private day for me. The fact that I am even writing this shows I am making progress, but lets not all expect too much too soon.

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