History never looks like history when you are living through it. ~ John W. Gardner
I’m always on the lookout for great quotes to put on my Facebook page where I post daily inspirations to encourage my readers. While scrolling through quotations, I ran across the above quote by Mr. Gardner and it caused me to stop and think. What history had I lived through? Of course the first thing that came to my mind was the September 11th attack on our country. But I had never thought of it in the category of Historical. Even years later, it still felt current to me. Not so for my grandchildren. They will read about the 9/11 attacks in school textbooks. They will see pictures, learn facts, read figures, but there is one thing they will not get from textbooks, my perspective. They won’t know how it changed me and made me a better person thus inspiring them to be a better people. They won’t know these things unless I write from my historical perspective.
While pondering Gardner’s quote, I thought back to the morning of September 11, 2001, when my phone rang and my brother-in-law asking, “Do you have your television on?”
“No. I’m on my way out the door.”
“Turn it on to the news.”
His voice, so grave and assertive, stopped me in my tracks. Even though I would be late for an important meeting, I did as he said.
The image of a burning world trade tower appeared on the screen. I sat on my coffee table, leaned forward and listened to the agitated newscasters reporting about a jet flying into the building. Then, in what I thought was a replay, I saw a jet heading for the tower. Confused, I wondered how they could replay the jet flying into the tower but still show the tower burning? When I realized this was a second jet hitting the second tower my breath caught in my throat and I held it. An ominous foreboding shadowed the room. My Pollyanna existence in the United States of America had come to an end.
Most of us have a vivid memory of where we were that day, our thoughts, and how it affected us. To write about these things bring a very human element to this historical event and will connect with future generations of readers. However, we must not stop there. The most important thing we can write is what we learned from this, how it changed us, and what positive life-lesson we can share.
Weeks after the attack happened I read about some of the people whose offices were in the towers and were late for work that day. They told of how frustrated they were trying to get to the office. Some were late because of dawdling children, others because of inconsiderate drivers. One man was angry with his wife because she insisted he drop off the kids at daycare. But it was these inconveniences that saved their lives. Now, when I’m inconvenienced, I try to be patient and go with the flow. Who knows?
Another thing I wondered about. What were the last words between those who died and their loved ones? Face it, no one expected a jet to fly into their office. Some victims had a few precious seconds to call their loved ones. Their last words were not, “I’m right and you are wrong.” No, they were assurances of love and appreciation. Since the time of the attacks, I’ve made it a practice to assure love and appreciation, even if I’m disgruntled.
Over time, I’ve also thought of more positive historical events. Some of us saw the birth of the Internet, cell phones the size of our palms, downloading music. Once when my friend spoke about her favorite record when she was a teen, her little daughter asked, “What’s a record?” Yikes!
I’ve written about my experiences for generations of future granddarlings. Hopefully the lessons, observations, and epiphanies I’ve had will resonate with them when they read my living history.
In my next blog on November 9th I will continue this theme of writing our history, only this time it will be about how our seemingly uninteresting daily lives will be treasured by future generations and interesting ways to record them.