I was born in a time of tv! In my life the ends of the world have only been a twist of a dial or a push of a button away. I have seen wars fought and pictures that have left lasting impressions on my mind. Where my mothers generation had to use their imagination as FDR pronounced...."This is a day that will live in infamy," my generation saw up close just what infamy was. More than once I watched my mother cry as she too no longer had to imagine but saw with her own eyes the realities of the world. When both President Reagan and Pope John Paul II were shot....there were tears. How could someone do such a thing? Then when the Challenger disintegrated right before our eyes....what had started as an amazing and wonderfully historic day.....turned historically tragic within seconds. I cried that day too. Maybe it was the hormones (I was 8 1/2 months pregnant at the time), but each time the footage was replayed...new tears began again. It was unthinkable and tragic....and I watched it hoping each time the outcome might be different. It never was.
With the age of technology....we have come closer to each other, to far off places, to many wonderful things.....but also, we have come much closer to realizing that evil exists and we can watch it play out right before our eyes. In my adult life I can think of numerous times where I have watched tragedy play out. I have sat glued to my tv, nauseous and feeling completely helpless as I watched life and death unfold. Waco, Oklahoma City, Jonesboro, Columbine, 9/11 and Sandy Hook to name a few and we also cannot forget the front line footage of war that often played on our nightly newscasts. Into our everyday language words like terrorists, IED, Al-Qaeda and weapons of mass destruction have slowly filtered in....ever to be apart of our new reality of the world.
I remember especially when the Oklahoma City bombing occurred 18 years ago this week. I was terrified. How could someone do such a horrific thing? It hit especially close to home because a good percent of my family are Oklahoma natives and many live in the OKC area. I sat sick and stunned as I watched the Murrah Federal building fall to pieces and each new picture showed more blood, more death......more tragedy. Newscasters on the scene found it difficult to hold their composure as they tried to report and makes sense of such a senseless event. When the pictures of all the kids started flashing before us....it was almost more than many of us could watch. It was certainly more than this mother could watch. I waited to hear that all of my family was okay and then I cried for all of those whose families were not so lucky. How could this happen in the United States?
When word came out that this was done by our own....Americans.....we were shook even further. Domestic terrorism. It has been a part of our life, our thoughts and our vocabulary ever since. Tragic really. We were an outraged country. As Americans this was not acceptable and we did what Americans do best. We pulled together. We went to OKC's aid in any way we could. We prayed with them and we cried with them and we demanded justice from our president and our courts because these were Americans that had been wounded and killed and their lives would not be lost in vain.
With each successive televised event.....I think I lost a little piece of my security. The illusion that as an American I was safe and protected was fast fading and when 9/11 unfolded.....it was shattered forever.
There is something terrifying about knowing that there are those in the world that wish you nothing but horrid, torturous death. The only thing possibly worse is when those in charge try to deny that this threat exists. When 9/11 took place....again we united. Once more we worked as a single unit outraged that someone could have done something so unbelievably horrific. It was a full scale attack of the US and one that had been meticulously thought out and planned for some time. We were hit where we were vulnerable and if not for the sake of some very brave Americans willing to give their own lives.....the attack could have been much worse. Living in the aftermath of such an event and watching Americans go from fighting mad to twelve years later living in a place of almost complete denial is something that keeps many of us awake at night.
We have not exactly made friends with many in the last few years and even now more than then......there are those who want the US crippled and Americans dead. We have slowly but surely let our guard down and left ourselves open to more terrorism and more tragedy. Yesterday was a perfect example of this.
The Boston Marathon....an event that pulls tens of thousands in internationally. To runners...it is their Super Bowl. Unlike the Super Bowl though.....many unlikely athletes are present in the Boston Marathon. It is a race that many families as well as those with special needs can participate in. For some it is a race to win and for others....it is an achievement to be able to say that they crossed the finish line. It is internationally televised and an event where many come to watch or cheer on their friends and family who are participating. In the big scheme of things....it is not surprising that an attack would be made at such an event. Super Bowls, World Series and huge NASCAR events have long been suspected to be prime candidates for acts of terrorism. Such large crowds largely hosted in big cities are fertile ground for terroristic tragedy. It makes a statement. It says....."We can, we will and as of today....we have the ability to get you!"
The bombs....two that they know went off (and possibly others they aren't sure yet) were strategically placed and strategically detonated. It was at the busiest point in the race where many were crossing the finish line. This had been well planned out and executed. Windows shattered, runners were knocked from their feet by the blasts....and those in the path of the bombs were pelted with shrapnel. The current death count is 3 (an 8 year old child included) and the injury count is around 150. Injuries included everything from arms and legs being severed by the blast to brain and hearing injuries and many many injuries from flying shrapnel. Again I had a front row seat in my living room to watch over and over as an eagerly awaited sporting event full of athletes and spectators in the blink of an eye became a terroristic disaster.
There was much talk at first....by the media and the different congressman who were interviewed about the care of language that was being used when describing this event. Apparently the word "terrorism" was not something that those in either place wanted casually bandied about. Soon though.....both sides of the fence including the president (or so it was reported) were saying that this in fact was an act of terrorism. I really wanted to strangle the politically correct yahoo's who apparently were trying to portray this as something much less offensive. How????? There was never a doubt as to what this act was. The only question was whether it was domestic (OKC) or foreign (9/11). Then there was the question of if it was domestic.....were they Americans with foreign leanings or foreign ties? OR if they were foreign....were they guests in our country, possibly even trained in our country only to turn and bite the hand that fed them? I have watched no news as of yet today....so I have no idea if these questions have any answers yet.
Yesterday it was stated several times that "Today we are not republicans or democrats but....Americans." This is true and in true American form we will once again unite, help and care for those attacked and pray for the victims, their families and our country. I hope we also think long and hard about what this attack means. It means that we have enemies both foreign and domestic. It means that we have let our guard down and left ourselves unprotected. It means that we need to raise our security levels and pull together as a country. If this is a foreign attack.....does this mean we need to close borders? Be more careful about who comes and goes in our country and possibly deport those who are questionable? Is it possible that we could be faced with an us or them situation? It certainly means we need to get back to being the force we once were and show the world just what Americans are made of. We need to be a strong country again with a strong people. We can't give up, we can't turn our backs....and most of all....we can't deny reality.
As I sit here writing this, I wonder how many people will actually read this? Of those that do, I wonder who will really think about this or who will laugh it off and call me crazy for my fears about the safety of our country and its people? The fact is....this is our new reality. TV brings the images home to us and their is no denying that people died and were injured yesterday because someone foreign or domestic was sending a message loud and clear....We got you!
My thoughts and prayers go out to the city of Boston, to the victims of yesterday's tragedy and to the families of those who were killed. I also wish to acknowledge the first responders who without their quick actions many more might have been lost and to the runners and spectators who jumped in to help the injured. This is what American's are all about.