This is an anniversary date for me. For many Americans this is Patriot Day- the day we keep in remembrance of one of the greatest catastrophes of the 21st century and a horrible beginning to it. I happened to be on THE castle tour of Europe when it happened. There were only a few more days left of the tour which started in Paris and that day we had just finished a tour of three schlosses in Bavaria. Those were Neuschwanstein, Linderhof and Herrenschiemsee Castles which were all started (and only one finished) by Mad King Ludwig. That day a black cat crossed my path at Linderhof, showed up in the reception hall and was promptly tossed out on its ear. If it was an omen then it was also vengeful.
By then, 9/11 had happened nearly a day ago but we were not to hear about it until we got to our hotels that night and turned on our T.V.s. I couldn’t get English on mine and several other tour mates said they couldn’t get English either. We all saw the towers in flames and then collapse. I was horrified and everyone else looked like they were in shock at dinner that night. We all decided to finish the tour, bravely and many Germans including two friends of mine who live in Nuremburg were very empathetic and compassionate about it when I communicated and/or encountered them. I stayed on for another week in Germany because, of course, my flights home were cancelled and rescheduled for a week later. I speak German so there was no difficulty in navigating and getting along by myself in Munich where our tour ended. I investigated some more castles- Nymphenburg just outside Munich on my own and Nuremberg’s Kaiserburg citadel, with its massive towers, and Albrecht Durer’s house with my long time friends. They showed me around and made me feel quite at home but most of that week I wandered around like a love-struck expatriate in Munich wondering what was next. I had spent nearly two weeks in a grand fantasy world that I’d always dreamed of and then came down to a crushing reality that no one wants to encounter.
I remember feeling as if home was light years away and several times the thought crossed my mind that I may never make it home. I started looking around and wondering if the whole world would change because mine already had. I was unsettled for sure but by the time I was on a plane and headed for home (on the same flight path as one of the planes which had been flown into the towers) I felt a new feeling that I had never experienced before. I was resolved that no matter what happened I would bravely forge ahead. That is what it means to be an American. Our bravery cannot be denied.
For Americans, security will never be certain again. I remember people talking about how no one would ever have the guts to attack us on our own shores. That is now a myth we all wanted to believe and is gone and blown away. No American will ever be the same since 9/11, who remembers it, and we will now look behind us in apprehension on that premise.
There is one reassurance, however, that I hope everyone will take to heart. It is simply that this country was established on the basis of trusting in God and our forefathers urged us in word and deed, written and spoken, to preserve that basis at all costs. They set up a fine government but without God on our side it would still be for naught. It doesn’t say In God We Trust on our coins for no reason. The bravest of us have In God We Trust stamped on our hearts.
see: How Did You Die? on my February 25, 2008 entry
“The task ahead of us is never as great as the power behind us.” R.W. Emerson