Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9/11 to 10/30. ~ I miss you, Roy ~

I was 12 for 9/11. I saw the second plane hit on TV as I went inside my friend Joe's house. I was a little early for the bus. My science class had a field trip today, and that went off fine. Caleb's father, an Air Force man, drove us out to Tent rocks. We joked, being middle school boys (of course, the passenger load was all male) and worried that Albuquerque might be a target, because we had an Air Force base, and everyone knew the mountains were full of nuclear weapons.

My father left work early, unable to grind through the job when something so gravely profound had just happened. He went home, to be with the family, who trickled in. I came back from the field trip, my brother from 4th grade, and mom came home from a day of substitute teaching.

At his elaborate retirement community, my Grandfather heard the news, and rapidly began the descent that ended in a hospital next November. I think, more than anything, more than the lung cancer, 9/11 is what broke him. He was a diplomat, you see. This was his life, this preventing and forestalling tragedy. He was crucial in the first Camp David peace accords, he had met multiple times with Yasser Arafat on behalf of the United States. This was a man who knew the middle east, as well as any outsider could, and he cared deeply for a peaceful solution to what always seems to manifest itself as an unending problem. 9/11 broke him.

I can't really separate the events now. There's over a year overlap, and the events were separate enough at the time. Just - this man was the inspiration to me, not so much from when I knew him, but from what I knew about him. He fits in my pantheon somewhere. My reaction to 9/11 will always include that, will include promises sworn at cemeteries by an idealistic 13-year-old, and will always have the whole distance that New Mexico brings to worldly events. I didn't really lose anyone, I had no one I worried for after the event. I just allowed the world to have its profound affect on my emerging adolescence.

So it goes.


Joseph Lopez said...

Noble are the keepers of peace, especially those of your grandfather's globe-reaching ilk. We could use good men like him soothing the hot tempers of leaders today. He is missed.

I spent lunchtime on Sept. 11, 2007 with an old buddy at Istanbul restaurant. We ate a traditional Middle Eastern meal. We heard conversations in English, Arabic, and Turkish. A military man and his family ate there that day. A city worker, and a PNM worker (could tell by the company cars) ate there too. Two young men who I would have just assumed were Hispanic, possibly distant cousins of mine, spoke Arabic with fluency.

When I told a buddy of mine of Jewish stock what I had to eat, his eyes became nostalgic and he sighed. He said Isrealites and Arabic peoples alike eat the same wonderful food I consumed but won't attempt to spell. Until I learn the culture and food we are lucky to have here in this melting pot of the world.

J. Lopez
Disabled Dude

I hope that we continue to see this country as a haven for the oppressed, a place for religions of all types to flourish and co-exist in harmony.

Kelsey Atherton said...

I meant to include this - his favorite hymn (I think; it was played to powerful effect at his funeral) was this adaptation of Finlandia

This is my song, Oh God of all the nations,
A song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
Here are my hopes, my dreams, my sacred shrine.
But other hearts in other lands are beating,
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country's skies are bluer than the ocean,
And sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine.
But other lands have sunlight too and clover,
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
Oh hear my song, oh God of all the nations,
A song of peace for their land and for mine.

Which I meant to put up in the original post. It's my favorite hymn, certainly.


greatcwall said...

This is a poignant remembrance of your grandfather. When I attended the National Geographic Leadership Institute, he wowed me and others. He was the star of the institute and many teachers sought an opportunity to spend some time with him. Betty was very tolerant of that! He was truly a Renaissance man. You were very fortunate to have had him as a part of your life as I was to have known him for that brief period of time.
Colleen Wall