9/11 + 10, A Family Conversation

My family has come home for a visit and like always the central meeting point is our parent's family room in front of the television. Some old habits never die because that is where we spent most of our family time growing up, watching a consensus program. In other words it was one we could all stomach at the same time, especially since in those days, we only had one TV.

Most of the time the station played whatever dad wanted, period, and usually what dad wanted was sports.

Today was no exception. We were watching tennis, a Serbian versus a Swiss National, then a Scot versus a Spaniard. But all of us were simply passing time, waiting for Serena, no last name needed, to take the court. We didn't know it, but we had a long wait, because the men played very long, very entertaining matches, well past Serena's scheduled time of entry.

Like always, the conversation bounced around the room. We tend to think alike since we're family. However we, all of us, tend to come to the same conclusions in vastly different ways and this is what makes the conversation so much fun. Never an argument, but always different view points and, yes, times that we agree to disagree. The disagreement always signaled by someone deciding to go help Mom in the kitchen, which meant, they went upstairs to watch reruns of Perry Mason or Cannon with my mother, until they cooled off.

Mom never just sat and watched and talked with the rest of us. She was more “sniper” in her approach. In other words, she would walk to the top of the steps, test the air, launch a volley of thoughts down the stairs toward us, then suck on her teeth to let us know she was done talking and walk back into the kitchen to catch up on her show, totally unconcerned about any blow-back opinion.

Group conversation in my family has always crossed generations with no one being deemed too young or too old. If you could talk, and you had an opinion, then you spoke or jumped into the fray. The young asked questions and sometimes got several answers. It was up to them to sort it out in their/our heads, which sometimes led to off shoot conversations for clarification. Sometimes that clarification amounted to, “don't listen to that fool, he crazy.”

Next to sports, the other favorite topic is current events and politics. The generation of elders prior to this generation was Republican and the talk was exceptionally lively, back in the day. Nothing like an old Black Republican to mess up Sunday dinner. These members have since passed on to that great GOP caucus in the sky. Although I would suspect that based on the composition of today's GOP, if they were still here, my folks would have transitioned into Democrats. But that is only my supposition, based on remembered stances that they periodically took. The current elder generation is Democrat with a heavy dose of anarchist, ready, willing and able to fight, if and when the revolution comes. The conservatives at this time tend to be younger to middlin' in age.

This day was Saturday, September 10th, 2011, and with prompting from the television, our thoughts turned to 9/11, remembering where we were when we heard or saw. For all of us the images in our mind were as clear as the day we watched the Towers fall. It never occurred to me that you could knock down a sky scrapper, and I still can't wrap my head around what I saw that day. Going around the room, the second plane into the building, the picture of the second plane frozen in the moments before it struck the tower and burst into flames, the pancake collapse of the buildings, the people falling, choosing to transition in their own way, rather than die by fire, the tears we all shed followed by tremendous anger and outrage that someone would dare attack our country.

We lost four cousins that day. All worked at the restaurant on top of the building.

That anger was palpable in the room among us. My dad, a World War II veteran, stung by the ongoing discrimination against Blacks even as they served their country. My brother in law, snatched out of college to become cannon fodder in the Vietnam war, spending his time on the USS Long Beach parked in the Gulf of Tonkin firing missiles at the Vietcong laden coast. My niece, a naval veteran who now makes her living as an air traffic controller in Texas. My nephew, recently discharged from the United States Marines, but not before being injured on his first and only tour of Iraq. Two of us lifelong, active campaigners and outspoken critics of the wars and any and all discrimination against Blacks, women and minorities, carrying scars, wounded in our individual ways, drawn together by name and an act of terror against our home.

The general consensus was that Bush should have listened to Joni Mitchell and paved a parking lot over Al Qaida's ass in Afghanistan. Never should have gone to Iraq. Should have finished what was started in Taliban country. Very supportive of President Obama, but not real happy with his continuation of Bush policies crafted in the wake of 9/11.

Another thing we all agreed on, is that America still has some unfinished business, some scores to settle, for the USS Cole, for Dar Es Alam, for Lebanon, with Iran and Saudi Arabia. We're not real happy about Israel either, We collectively need a Michael Corleone payback for past injuries suffered at the hands of those who dared to strike at us.

An unspoken consensus in the room....we were all still crying, inwardly and outwardly.

Healing is taking a very long time.

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