9-1-1 & American Innocence

Today was a bit of a nostalgic one for me, remembering 9-1-1. I can remember watching the towers collapse on the television but still going into the office numb and questioning what was really going on? Then we worked, or attempted to, for a few hours, while pressing the CEO to close the offices and warehouses. Eventually she acquiesced, reluctantly.

Then, Jacqui McNeelan, Aaron Smith and I proceeded to the former Palby’s Bar in American Canyon on Highway 29 and sat at the bar. We did too many shots and drinks with the bartender, and a smattering of other patrons, around us glued to the television.

We watched, we listened, we debated and we concluded life, as we knew it, was about to change. Over too many shots; we got sentimental, made many observations about our lives and then concluded, we’d better get to our families, give them a hug and know- life will change.

In so many ways it did change.

Government became more aggressive and took liberty at many civil liberties in the name of protecting us from “them.”

America lost a piece of its innocence. We changed from a nation of optimists; to a nation of distrust, fearful and suspicious of those different than ourselves and our beliefs.

It was a true tragedy, a gut wrenching horror. Many will never recover from the tragedy and the loss.

However, I think the real tragedy is 9-1-1 scared, our national psyche, in a way that we may never comprehend.

I believe much of the civil unrest, distrust, the rise of 45, the feeling of hopelessness by so many, the economic divisions and divisions between rural America and urban America, the racial, religious and cultural tensions that are festering now; are a symptom of that sad day of September 11 and our internalizing a true reaction to it.

I am convinced that our national psyche, still has not properly healed from that event.

I am not sure what it will truly take to bounce back to the optimism that was America, prior to that day.

During the 20th Century, the second half, was the American Century. We challenged the world as a nation of dreamers that set the stage of mass education, commerce, science, invention, wealth creation, mass entertainment and challenged other cultures to build large middle class societies with dreams and aspirations.

We were a proud people, but also a people unaffected by the violence and social unrest that impact most other societies.

We were sheltered by a large military, oceans between us and our perceived enemies; friendly neighbors at our Northern & Southern boundaries and for the most part violence of a mass scale was always something seen on television and perceived as “over there.”

Somehow post 9-1-1 as we head towards closing this decade and moving into the roaring 2020’s, we must look from within ourselves and reignite the passion of what is good about America.

We must rebuild by meeting with strangers, people of other races, nationalities, religions and cultures that are different than our close circle of friends. Through those contacts, we must again build bridges of understanding and trust. From relationships comes understanding.

Only through those bonds of, one on one relationships; will we rebuild an America to one of optimism, aspirations and shared values with a touch of pre 9-1-1 innocence.

May we strive daily to make the world a better place. We must begin in our own neighborhood, our own backyard, our own Facebook pages and practice civility to build those bridges in order to truly pay tribute to those lost at the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and on Pennsylvania flight 93.

May their souls, Rest In Peace and they be honored as our national psyche is healed.

Commentary by Chris Edwards Napa 9/11/2017


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