So, Americans, what did you do today?
It's a little weird, isn't it? This not-a-holiday day. It feels wrong to let it go by without some sort of acknowledgment but what should it be?
I've posted about 9/11 before, telling the story all of us tell each other: where we were that morning, what we were doing, what we thought. The world certainly changed for me that day - it was the event that began everything, focusing Kirk's restlessness, starting the Iraq War... leading finally to that empty car on the road.
I hadn't really thought about doing anything particular this year but The Male Child announced last weekend that it was going to wear its uniform as a quiet way to mark the day. It was a three day weekend because of our national salute to the value of hard work (take a day off and crowd the malls to buy knocked down tool sets and three-for-the-price-of-two pieces of underwear) and we celebrated the way we like to - avoiding the crowded malls and sleeping in. So we somehow ended up watching a marathon set of shows on the training process for Navy SEALS (Just Children 2, 3 and I - Child 1 was away. We reacted characteristically. Child 3 began doing ridiculous amounts of push ups apparently out of solidarity, Child 2 watched this with some scorn until the acid burn of competitiveness was too great and it too did some sit ups and push ups; I lolled in exhaustion from all of the enormous amount of exercising everyone else was doing) and somewhere in the ad breaks came up a spot for the Freedom Walk.
So that's what Child 1 and I did this morning.
We got there too early (because I always get everywhere too early)
So we walked through the Veteran's Memorial and learned that rose breeders had produced hybrids that are dedicated to peace, to the WWII veterans etc. I can't think of a more beautiful tribute - something live, something growing, something that renews itself each year.
There was also a wall engraved with texts from emails, letters and telegrams. This one that Child 1 is reading
Is followed by one right beneath that (nearly a month later) tells the family that their son is not killed, he was only wounded...
Eventually we signed in, got our NAVY! pins, and gathered behind the color guard to start the walk
We walked behind a man with a horrific scar on the back of his knee. He had a brace that wrapped his calf and went down to his shoe. When we got back to the starting point I could see that the scars continued around the front of his right leg as well - deep, long scars. He wore an "Instructor" t-shirt and spent the walk harassing the other instructor he came with. He had no limp and his scars are old and well healed.
We walked for maybe half an hour, following the color guard as they ran the gauntlet of smashed glass and low-hanging branches. There were a few babies in strollers. There were a lot of frighteningly fit and terribly attractive ROTC types in their PT gear or BDU's. And there were some civilians like Child 1 and me - just people walking and thinking about that day, the day the world changed.