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Memories of September 11, 2001

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MEMORIES OF SEPTEMBER 11, 2001

If you were alive and old enough to comprehend what was going on, you have your memories. Here are mine:

Hearing about the first plane strike on NPR as I got ready to leave for my office on Capitol Hill and thinking, “That wasn’t an accident.”

Arriving at work, turning on the TV, seeing the Pentagon in flames and thinking, “We are being attacked. This is a war.”

Huddling around the TV with a dozen others as we watched the tower fall, and saying over and over, uncomprehendingly, “Are there people in there? Are there people in that building?”

Standing on the deck outside our office and seeing a plume of smoke rise into the air beyond the Capitol building — the Pentagon burning.

Frantically trying to get my coworkers to move away from the windows, fearing that the Capitol would be next. They laughed at me, none of us realizing that at that moment, the heroes of Flight 93 were taking down the plane that was aimed at the beautiful dome just a few blocks away.

The weight of making the decision to send everyone home, even though we weren’t sure it was safe. Walking to my car and passing hundreds of congressional aides milling around dialing their useless cell phones. All systems were down.

Battling evacuating traffic and finally reaching my neighborhood just as the NPR reporter signed off his long and painful shift.  His voice was cracking and wavering with emotion.

Pulling over to the side of the road and wailing like a bereft child.

Stopping at the sub shop because I didn’t want to go home alone. Nobody speaking. An older woman looking at me and shaking her head, over and over, as if trying to expel the images.

A friend came over that night. I don’t remember much of what we said as we tried to process the day, but I remember telling her that I felt like I’d lost an innocence I hadn’t even known existed, and that I would never feel safe again.

In Memoriam

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Moments from the Women’s March

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Moments from the Women’s March

I’ve been to a lot of protests, marches, and demonstrations in my time, beginning with the Vietnam War. I have never seen anything like the crowd that converged on Washington, D.C. yesterday. And to think it wasn’t even the biggest rally of the day, and was one of 670 around the world!

The D.C. Department of Homeland Security said that the crowd surpassed 500,000 and was one of the largest in the history of our nation’s capitol. I’d call that successful by any measure. (OK, in Donald’s Twitter-world, it might have looked like a small group of losers and cry-babies, but I mean in reality where most of us live.)

I am still processing the images and basking in the afterglow (while moving my heating pad from achy hip to achy hip). I don’t have many words to share. But I do have pictures! So here are a few of my faves, and also a couple of chants that echoed off the government buildings lining Independence and Constitution avenues where we marched.

RALLY ON CONSTITUTION

Marching down Constitution Avenue

“Show me what democracy looks like!”
“THIS is what democracy looks like!”

 

Lots of pink

Pink, everywhere!

And it wasn’t just women, although we made the most noise.

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Animals have opinions, too

 

Real men wear pink

Real men wear pink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Do you think these guys could be terrorists? They have black hair.

 

“We need a leader!”

“Not a creepy tweeter!”

Pretty much sums it up

Pretty much sums it up

“Welcome to your first day!”

“We aren’t going to go away!”

“Welcome to your every day!

“We are never going away!”

After 5 hours of rallying and 90 minutes of marching, we reached the White House!

After 5 hours of rallying and 90 minutes of marching, we reached the White House!

And we left the new occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue a few mementos to ruminate on:

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So although yours truly is still cycling through all of these different reactions to our “accidental president,”

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yesterday helped remind me of the biggest truth of all in this new world of “fake news” and “alternative facts:”

me w sign at march

 

JANUARY 21, 2017:

 

 

January 21, 2017

 

 

 

 

Melting Barriers on February 17th

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What do a 78-year-old retiree, a union organizer, and a bunch of evangelical Christian students have in common? We are all marching on Washington to support Obama’s pledge to take action on climate!

Green God-People, Meet the Funny Atheists

I seem to have gotten myself into an awkward position. Three dear friends, all avowed atheists who don’t know each other, have said they’ll join me in D.C. for the climate rally on February 17th.  I thought my retired activist neighbor, my liberal, rant-prone lawyer friend, and a professional union organizer would get along pretty well, all being somewhat cynical and funny as all get-out.

Then I started hearing from my friends in the Christian community, including a boat-load of young evangelicals who care passionately about protecting the planet. They are coming from all over the country to meet downtown for the rally and want me to join them.

You bet!

I think it’s supremely important that our politicians understand that not all Christians will be co-opted by the right-wing’s corporately funded anti-environmental campaigns. There are many – myself included – who take seriously their responsibility to be stewards of creation.

There are also several interfaith groups marching, and they want to meet up with the Christians. This is exciting news, because oftentimes the various religious groups prefer to remain separate, even when they agree on an issue.

It’s sounding like a movement!

Of course there are bus loads of environmentalists heading to D.C., too, but I can hang out with them any old time. This is a day for crossing boundaries.

Coming Together

So far, I’ve only ‘fessed up to one of my atheist buddies that we’ll be joining the God-people. To be fair, I didn’t know it when I invited them. She’s cool with it and is going to bring lots of green union stickers for the assembled. We’ll see how my other non-faith friends react – perhaps they are finding out about it as they read this blog post.

The broad representation at this rally shows that when it comes to protecting our home planet, we can all find common cause. We might agree about little else, but we will come together in a spirit of peace and cooperation on February 17th to say that :

It is past time to move forward on climate!

Peace Depends on Climate Action – NOW

I am a member of the Bloggers for Peace group, and I believe that nothing – NOTHING – is going to be a bigger threat to world peace than climate change. In the decades to come, wars over fresh water, food, and arable land will increase as the climate becomes more unstable. We will witness famines and floods of refugees the likes of which we can’t even imagine. I choose not to dwell on these likelihoods – there are children I love who will pay the price, and it makes me too sad.

But that doesn’t mean I’m going to put my head in the mud left behind by Katrina and Sandy and pretend it isn’t happening. That is nothing short of insane. I’m going to wave my sign and scream my head off and act as if this could be the end of the human race, becausewell, please come to D.C. for the rally.

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If you have questions about transportation, housing, etc, check the FAQ page here: action.sierraclub.org/site/PageServer?pagename=forwardonclimate_faq. Any specific questions not answered there, feel free to email forwardonclimate@gmail.com and somebody will get back to you ASAP.

A few related posts:

https://melanielynngriffin.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/extremism-in-defense-of-the-planet/

https://melanielynngriffin.wordpress.com/2012/10/29/every-day-disasters/

https://melanielynngriffin.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/hope-or-hostility-in-a-multi-faith-world/

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