I guess I may as well jump on the what-was-I-doing-on-9/11 bandwagon too. Well, Kev and I woke up around 9 am, logged on to my computer to check our email, and there it was: the news, the pictures, all of it.....yadayada......I felt just like everyone else probably did. Not to sound like I'm minimizing the events or anything, but my feelings about it were not unlike what you all felt.....scared, shocked, disbelief, a little nauseous.
I went to my Research Methods class at 11 am, but I was one of only 3 people that did and our professor told us to go home.
I had to work at 4. I worked here. I actually couldn't believe we were open, but we were and in a way, I was glad to get away from the TV and around other people. Jax sold military surplus stuff and let me tell you - that's exactly all we sold that day. I don't think we had sold that much military stuff since Y2K (which was also interesting)! I wondered why these shoppers weren't at home with their families. But whatever. It was better than just sitting there in an empty store.
I had a register shift that night and so I rang everyone's purchases up. Gas cans were the #1 seller--the lines at the gas stations in Fort Collins were out of control. We also sold: gas masks, MREs, flares, first aid kits, shovels, and flags.
In the weeks that proceeded 9/11 we sold tons and tons and tons of - thousands, maybe- American flags. Lord. The flag frenzy baffled me. I mean, I guess it wasn't all that surprising to me that blatant consumerism was the way many people expressed their pride and support, but what did waving a flag really DO? Couldn't that effort/money have been better channeled elsewhere?
It started to get ANNOYING. People called relentlessly wanting their damn American flags and when we told them that they were backordered 3 weeks and they had to get on the list, they freaked. We sold out of everything remotely flagish: T-shirts (dear god, we had all those hideous Toby Keith-esque shirts and the people LOVED THEM), handkerchiefs, dish towels, tchotchkes, you name it. If they couldn't get the flag right away, they bought the FLAG POLE - and we quickly sold out of those too.
During that time I went up to the Rocky Mountain Shambala Center, which is Buddhist retreat center, one weekend for a little nature/contemplation. There I bought tibetan prayer flags and hung them up on my front porch. Shortly after, I wrote an essay for one of my classes about how I valued what those flags represented over our own.
Then, well, you guessed it. I got called unpatriotic and uncaring and disrespectful and other such choice names when my piece came up for workshop. I knew it was coming - it was a heated, emotional time and I knew my piece would probably cause some people in my class to come completely unglued. But I thought I would take that chance and would be strong enough to take it. I failed.
During the break I had a cigarette and cried - with real tears - to a guy in my class who also shared my opinion. Then I went home. As it happened, my professor absolutely loved my piece and commended my "courage." And the girl who was most vocal in being against it? Well, still hate her ;-) Haha, not really. She was prissy and conservative to begin with.
Point is: I don't think you have to wave an American flag all over the place to be patriotic. If that's all you think you have to do, you're a blind follower. My friend Mark has a great bumper sticker - I think it says "dissention is the highest form of patriotism." Those who don't question anything scare me. And so it is today, thinking about where we are in terms of this happening again, and that scares me too. No flag is going to alleviate these fears.
*Side note: Incidentally, today is also Patriot Day.