Category Archives: 9/11

truly a wordless wednesday: clarion today features my flight 93 memorial photos

Flight 93 National Memorial

Flight 93 National Memorial, Wall of Names
July 2012
photo credit: Melissa Firman

Bill Hearst from WWCH 1300 AM and C93 92.7 FM reached out to me yesterday with a request. He had come across my photos from our family’s visit last year to the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville and was asking for permission to use them on Clarion Today. 

You can see them here. (A note: the photo with the row of flags wasn’t taken in Shanksville, but rather at a suburban Philadelphia cemetery.)

The memorabilia left at the holy ground of the Flight 93 Memorial is powerfully affecting. Thank you, Bill, for recognizing that. I’m honored that you shared these with your readers and listeners.

 

 

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They’re Still Missing

NYT - 9-12-2012

They did it again.

For the SECOND YEAR IN A ROW.

I speak, of course, about The New York Times and the absolute lack of coverage that they give on their front page to the 12th anniversary of the September 11th attacks.

It is appalling that there is no mention of this today.

It is doubly appalling that this is the second year that the New York Times saw fit to slap the families of those who were lost on 9/11 with their indifference to that loss, one that still resonates 12 years later.

We all lost something that fateful day in September.

I wrote about this issue last year in this post, you’re missing

You can make the argument that this year, Syria is the big story.

Which is even more reason, in my mind, to keep 9/11 front and center in our minds.

Today, especially, but always.

“They took all the footage off my T.V.
Said it’s too disturbing for you and me
It’ll just breed anger that’s what the experts say
If it was up to me I’d show it everyday….
….Have you forgotten how it felt that day?
To see your homeland under fire
And her people blown away
Have you forgotten when those towers fell?
We had neighbors still inside going thru a living hell….
….Have you forgotten all the people killed?
Yeah, some went down like heroes in that Pennsylvania field
Have you forgotten about our Pentagon?
All the loved ones that we lost and those left to carry on….
…Have you forgotten?
Have you forgotten?
Have you forgotten?”

“Have You Forgotten?” – Darryl Worley

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morning blue salute

Sky - July 24

 

This morning’s sky is a color that can only be described as 9/11 blue.

(The weather, too.)

Today marks the 10th anniversary of a good friend becoming a police officer, a career change he made after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I know how proud he is of what he does, and how proud his family (especially his wife) is. And how proud his children are of him.

This morning, under this 9/11 blue sky, I salute and honor him and all who have gone before.

Never forget. Always remember.

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you’re missing

“Everything is everything, but you’re missing.”

Notice anything missing from yesterday’s front page of The New York Times?

Take a good look. Glance at the date again.

I’ll give you a reminder: September 11, 2012.

Anything significant about that date?

So, let’s ask the question again, perhaps in a different way. Notice any mention of an incident, a coordinated and well-funded terrorist attack in New York City, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania that happened 11 years ago on this date and killed more than 3,000 people?

Nope, I didn’t see anything either.

I am at an absolute loss for words here about The New York Times’ decision not to include a single mention of the 9/11 anniversary on their front page.

Actually, I do have some words.

Appalled.

Stunned.

Dismayed.

Angry.

Saddened.

My first reaction upon reading about this was, ironically, not too far removed from my reaction when hearing that a plane struck one of the towers. That’s a joke, right? Some kind of horrible accident?

Um, no.

The omission of coverage on 9/11/2012 on the front page by The New York Times was deliberate.

The pain, the outrage, the loss – these never fade. The amount of journalism, however, must,” wrote Margaret Sullivan, the Times’ reader representative, in yesterday’s opinion pages.

Not like the folks at The New York Times give a damn about my opinion, but indulge me as I take issue with this notion that “the amount of journalism, however, must.”

I’m having some trouble with that line of thinking, folks. Alas, The Gray Lady isn’t helping me out with her reasoning.

Sullivan writes in her blog post that she discussed the diminished coverage with two of her editors, including Wendell Jamieson, the deputy metropolitan editor. “You look for an angle that has news value,” he said, “and you ask can we mark this day in a creative, exciting and journalistically meaningful way.”

New York Times editor Jill Abramson is also quoted as saying last month, on an appearance on “Morning Joe” (which I have additional separate issues with, but that’s another soapbox rant), that the Times is “less of a New York paper than it was when I was growing up here and addicted to reading it.”

New York is still part of our DNA and important to the soul of the publication, but the actual metro area has, over time, been not the main part of our print readership. And online it’s more of an international and national audience.

Back to Sullivan’s blog post, in which she also writes:

You might call it “anniversary journalism.” Every year, the anniversary of D-Day, the commemoration of Veterans Day and other important dates cause journalists to try to find the right balance between what readers think is appropriate and necessary and the lack of any actual news to drive the coverage.

Often, other than the local events surrounding an anniversary, there isn’t always much to say that is original. Yet, readers, understandably, want the dates remembered in a substantial way.

Yes. Yes, we do. At least, this one does.

So, if I’m understanding this reasoning correctly, the lack of journalistic coverage given to 9/11 by The New York Times was a) deliberate; b) done because there wasn’t anything new to say about an event that happened 11 years ago and c) doesn’t pertain to the paper’s main readership, which is an international and national audience.

The deliberateness issue is one that … well, God help us all.

The nothing new to say? That’s sloppy journalism at its best. Pure and simple.

Doesn’t pertain to the international and national audience readership? I’m sorry, I was under the impression that 9/11 was a global event, one that affected people from every nation and changed the world as we know it.

I understand that the Times did some stories a few days, weeks, whatever in advance of the 9/11 anniversary. Cool. Let me dust off your Pulitzer.

I’m well aware that I am probably in the minority with this thinking, thanks to several smart and usually reasonable and nice Facebook friends of mine trying their damnedest to set me straight. They are telling me that maybe we’ve had enough, that it is more than time to move on, to let the families grieve in peace.

Well, I don’t presume to know what the hell the loved ones of those killed want or don’t want. I’m not their spokesperson. I’d imagine that, to a person, they probably have mixed and complex feelings; that they remember, recognize and respect this day in their own way. I will say this: The people I know who have experienced a loss through 9/11 are ones who I have come to know through their words in their blogs and their books.

People like Allison and Abigail.

By sharing their words with us on the anniversary of this fateful day, Allison and Abigail are asking us to remember, too. Yes, they have moved on. But make no mistake: they still remember and they always will.

And so should we. And if some of us need a heavy handed reminder to do that, I have no problem with that.

Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I’m having a bit of a hard time with The New York Times not acknowledging the anniversary on 9/11 itself – NOT TO MENTION the day after, relegating the event to a front page photo caption and a news story buried on page A24 that was so shoddy in its reporting that it could have been recycled from any of the previous 9/11 anniversaries. It didn’t even feel like any of the reporters were there.

How does it then become okay for The New York Times to silence Allison and Abigail, to make the judgment call for them that the amount of journalism must fade?

I find that unacceptable.

Because when we allow the coverage to fade to black and when we allow a television station to usurp a moment of silence to keep up with the Kardashians’ chirpy blabber about breasts, this is what happens:

We run the risk of cheapening a day of sacrifice from people crashing 500 miles an hour to their deaths in a Pennsylvania field, from people being blown out of their office chairs at the Pentagon, from people rushing up skyscraper stairs in towers of flames in Manhattan. Where once heroes and heroines busted down doors to save lives, someday soon they’ll be honored in the way we do the Pilgrims, with a special 4 am Doorbuster September 11 Let’s Roll Back the Prices to 2001! Sale at Walmart.

Yesterday, in making a decision to fade out the amount of journalism coverage given to 9/11 on the actual day, The New York Times dropped a ball as big as that one in Times Square. And in doing so, we saw the ushering in of a new era.

One that erodes our stories, our memories, our history, our duty, our obligation, our legacy to 3,000 people silenced forever.

“They took all the footage off my T.V.
Said it’s too disturbing for you and me
It’ll just breed anger that’s what the experts say
If it was up to me I’d show it everyday….
….Have you forgotten how it felt that day?
To see your homeland under fire
And her people blown away
Have you forgotten when those towers fell?
We had neighbors still inside going thru a living hell….
….Have you forgotten all the people killed?
Yeah, some went down like heroes in that Pennsylvania field
Have you forgotten about our Pentagon?
All the loved ones that we lost and those left to carry on….
…Have you forgotten?
Have you forgotten?
Have you forgotten?”

copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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(Not So) Wordless Wednesday: At the Flight 93 National Memorial: All That They Left Behind

With family in town for several days, we took a little road trip out to the rural-most parts of Pennsylvania on Sunday afternoon, to pay our respects at the Flight 93 National Memorial. 

It was my second time visiting, but the first for the rest of the family. Two things struck me this time: the hot wind blowing over the hills from whence the plane came on its fated path, and the particular mementos that were left tucked in the overhead compartment-like shelf overlooking the final crash sight.

Wristbands. Flowers. Coins (for In God We Trust?) 

And these, stories left behind with them all.

The most poignant one, to me:

“And I know it aches

And your heart, it breaks
You can only take so much
Walk on
Leave it behind
You’ve got to leave it behind
All that you fashion, all that you make
All that you build, all that you break
All that you measure, all that you feel
All this you can leave behind
All that you reason, all that you care
(It’s only time and I’ll never fill up all my mind)
All that you sense, all that you scheme
All you dress up, and all that you see
All you create, all that you wreck
All that you hate.” 
“Walk On” ~ U2

For more Wordless Wednesday photos, click here.

copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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The Sunday Salon: Post 4th of July Edition

As I type this, a mere three days after the Fourth, there are bombs bursting in our neighborhood’s air in the form of fireworks being set off nearby.

I repeat: July 4 was three days ago.

My guess is that it is the same individual that has been celebrating the nation’s birthday for the last fortnight. (Also known as the past two weeks, for those who don’t have a historian husband handy to ask such questions of.)

Yes, this is Pittsburgh, and if there’s anything I have learned in our year of living here, it is that we ‘Burghers have a THING for fireworks. As in, we love ’em and cannot get enough of them. Apparently, it is not unheard of for several towns to continue their fireworks extravaganzas well into a week past the Fourth and then some.

All this is a preamble to say that the rockets’ red glare of this week inspired me to finally pick up Gail Collins’s 2003 book America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates and Heroines. This one has been on my want-to-read list (and my personal shelves) for awhile now, and what better time to start than the 4th of July?

Good intentions, they were. However, on the actual 4th, I was still deeply immersed in Lauren Groff’s latest novel, Arcadia (WHICH I LOVED) and despite a lazy day of us not doing much of anything, I didn’t start America’s Women until Friday. It doesn’t seem to matter, though, because with these nightly fireworks going on, it’s a fitting backdrop indeed.

I’m only about 20 pages into this right now and am already finding it fascinating reading. Who knew there were so many extraordinary colonial women – and I’m not talking the everyday names we all know. Collins brings to life the unsung heroines on these pages, even if the details of their lives and accomplishments are scant.

In other news, my in-laws are visiting us for several days. You wouldn’t think this would afford one much reading time, but yesterday it did as they took the kids to breakfast and then to see “Brave.” (They all liked it.) That gave me a chance to read No Such Thing as the Real World: Stories About Growing Up and Getting a Life, which consists of six short stories by notable young adult authors An Na, M.T. Anderson, K.L. Going, Beth Kephart, Chris Lynch, and Jacqueline Woodson. I admit, I picked this up at the library anticipating the Beth Kephart story (“The Longest Distance”) which was wonderful and reminiscent of Nothing But Ghosts in a way, and found myself really enjoying Chris Lynch’s “Arrangements” and An Na’s “Complications.” The others were good, too, but those three were exceptional.

Our planned itinerary today with the in-laws and kids takes us to a patriotic place of heroes and heroines, a place where our real world stopped turning on a September day. If the weather holds out, we’re taking a little road trip to the Flight 93 National Memorial. I had the opportunity to visit for the first time last fall (it is truly a moving experience, if you ever have the chance to go) but this will be the first for The Husband, his parents, and the kids.

The fireworks might have a different sound to them tonight. Let freedom ring, indeed.

At the Flight 93 National Memorial
Taken by me October 26, 2011

copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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The Sunday Salon: Unbroken

At first, I wasn’t going to write a Sunday Salon post (or any post) today. With today being the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks against America, I wasn’t sure I had anything left to say or to add to the conversation. Plus, it seems almost trivial and indulgent to be spending the day blogging, reading, and watching football. (Our typical Sunday routine during football season.) Today, this almost feels wrong.

Or is it?  It sounds a bit dramatic, especially for someone who didn’t lose anyone in the attacks, but I honestly don’t think there has been a day in the past decade that I haven’t thought about 9/11. (One of Boo’s therapists, aghast at hearing The Husband and I admit this, once took us to task and questioned us a bit too rigorously about why, exactly, we were so affected by 9/11 since, after all, we didn’t lose anyone. Hello, maybe we were affected because we’re Americans?)

But it’s true. I think about 9/11 a lot. It can be as simple as looking at the digital clock here on my laptop or on my night table or in my car, seeing that it’s 9:11, and saying a silent prayer of remembrance. (I always seem to look at the clock at 9:11, or at the time that is the numbers representing Betty and Boo’s birthday.)

Or passing the exit on the Pennsylvania Turnpike where one would take to visit Shanksville, PA – something that is becoming more common, now that we are living in the Pittsburgh area and since my new job will take me to that area on occasion (as early as this Tuesday perhaps).

Or anytime one gets a glimpse of the New York skyline – as it was Before or as it is After.

Or waking up to a sky of such brilliant blue that it could only have been painted by the hand of God himself.

I remember 9/11 everyday in my heart. I think many Americans do the same.  And so, in some ways, that’s why I’m not watching much coverage of the memorials or reading many of the heartwrenching stories. Even my Facebook stream has been a bit overwhelming this morning, truth be told.

It’s a day of remembrance, of reflection – but to me, it is also a day where it is OK for our lives to go on. Where the people who lost their lives that day would, I’d imagine, almost want us to do what they no longer can – spend time with family, enjoy a football game (or two, or three), celebrate the freedom we have to read the books of our choosing and to express our opinions.

Which is where The Sunday Salon comes in.  While I was debating internally whether or not to do a Salon post and whether it seemed too self-indulgent to be talking books on such a day, I realized that the book I am currently reading – and which I hope to finish up today, on 9/11/2011 – is absolutely perfect for this occasion. And I cannot NOT tell you about it, because it is a book that I believe every American (no, scratch that, every human being) should read.

It’s Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, by Laura Hillenbrand.  It’s the story of one Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who was enslaved as a POW by the Japanese during World War II.  The atrocities that Louis endured are ones that would have broken anyone – physically or emotionally – many, many times over.  But instead, he survived conditions that seemed impossible to live through.

I’m not trying to equate that being a POW for almost three years is the same as “surviving” 9/11 when one wasn’t directly involved in the attacks.  It’s not the same.  But what is the same about Louis Zamperini’s story and 9/11 is that inner spirit, that will to fight back and to not let the enemy win.  It’s the same determination that we saw in the heroes of Flight 93, in the skies over Pennsylvania. They weren’t going to let the enemy win.  In the face of unimaginable tragedy and terror, they (and the people at Ground Zero and at the Pentagon and throughout the nation) would not allow themselves nor America to become broken.

And we saw this in the days and months after 9/11 as our country truly understood what it meant to be united.   We saw this in the days and decades afterwards, as our military fought bravely, doing what long seemed impossible and often out-of-reach in the quest to find and kill Osama bin Laden.

In many ways, we’ve lost that united spirit, that pride of patriotism that we shared and remembered in the face of 9/11. It’s easy to see how and why. We’re a nation divided politically and socially. We’re a people facing hardship that many of us have never known before with record numbers of us out of work, unsure where our next meal is going to come from, uncertain of our immediate and long-term financial futures.  We’re cynical, skeptical, and untrusting.

We often feel broken, don’t we?

One of the many things that I love about authors and books is that their words have the power to meet you at the very time and place and moment that you most need them. It’s a gift, and today especially, it’s worth remembering that.  Unbroken has become that kind of book for me.  I don’t know why I felt compelled to read this book now. Yeah, it’s the September 2011 selection for an online book club a friend of mine just invited me to join, but Unbroken has been all over the Internet and the book blogs for a long time before now. Why is this one coming to me now?

The only reason I can think of is that I simply needed to read this now, as a way to be reminded that we do have the ability to survive the unimaginable, whatever that might represent in our particular lives. That, especially when we don’t feel it, that there is a spirit of resilience in all of us that can – and will – sustain us through the darkest days and allow us to come shining through.

Maybe that’s true for you, too.

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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