Yesterday, December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was attacked…
This is a direction quote, as seen here, of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s most infamous speech to date. This is the speech he read to Congress the day after Pearl Harbor. Today, we call it the “Infamy Speech” and whenever a person hears it or reads it, something is elicited within your heart so deep and so unknown to the human psyche that there are no words. The clearest emotional response are tears as you can only imagine the pain and suffering the men and women of Pearl Harbor went through and the suffering of all the families of people who were there, the suffering of the President himself in having to inform everyone about this terrible tragedy, and the horror of a nation that had been promised, sworn to keep from a world war across the pond would now be joining it, in a manner of speaking.
The reason I quoted this speech is because what FDR never remarked upon – because it had little bearing – was that there would be more days to live in infamy in American history. In this last century alone, we’ve had numerous moments of time stand still as the news of horrifying moments have reach the general populace. Every man, woman, and child alive at the time of John F. Kennedy’s assassination can tell you the exact second they found out, where they were when they found out, and the emotional reaction of watching/hearing the news. I’m not so sure about people of a lighter skin tone, but I can bet you dollars to donuts that every darker skinned man, woman, and child can remember where they were, what they were doing, and how they felt when they learned that Martin Luther King, Jr had been assassinated, or in same vein, Malcom X. I was too young to really remember, but I do recall exactly what I was doing when the Twin Towers were attacked in 1993. (I was ten at the time and watching the news and I remember the thrills of fear pounding up and down my skull.) And I can clearly remember the moment I found out about the end of an era with the destruction of the WTC as well as the planned attack on the White House and the senseless destruction of the Pentagon.
Everyone will relate their stories, both heroic and sad, both boring and tumultuous, to anyone who will ask. It’s not because we want to share the pain but that it’s one of those iconic moments. Perhaps we can say that good moments have similar reaction in memory formation, but while the most iconic moment I can clearly think of, in a positive moment [of American history], would be man’s first steps on the moon… I don’t see the reaction and formation of the memory as similar. Those are positive experiences. And it takes horrific, mind-numbing pain, I think, to create the slow-playback these moments create within our memory spans. I think it’s only from that pain and terror that we can have clear recall of these moments days, weeks, months, years, and even decades later.
I’ll tell you where I was when the attack happened: I was in English class. We had no idea what was going on. I had noticed, in peering at the clock and looking out the little window in the door, that the hallways were empty. There was no one walking through the halls. I felt something then, in that realization, but saying that it was an act of foreboding is delusional. What it felt like was that I had gone to school on a weekend day instead of the usual Tuesday drivel. I went across the street, after class, ignoring everything but the waiting boyfriend who was scheduled to ship out to Basic Training soon. He was picking me up. He was getting something to eat, across the street, at a Burger King. “Did you hear?” He asked me with ghoulish delight. It was that, truly. He thought he was going to see some action before his basic training. He thought he would go and help… and die of who knew what, possibly, in the mean time. He wanted the glory of having his name attached to something. I stared at him, confused. What the fuck was going on. “They attacked us. The twin towers are gone.”
I spent the rest of the day at his house, watching the horrible scenes over and over and over again. They didn’t really focus on the Pentagon attack or the flight that took back the plain. I can just remember watching first one plane and then a second smash face-first into the towers that were a testament to American ingenuity. I remember being sick and scared and I decided to be angry instead. I had to listen to the boyfriend make numerous phone calls so he could find out if his unit was being activated. I don’t remember what happened to his unit, though he didn’t go. I just remember being sick to my stomach and thinking that I can’t cry because I had to be strong because I was with someone who would get shipped somewhere, at the drop of a hat. I don’t think I ever cried because of that day.
Why am I opening up this wound? It’s not just because today is the eleventh anniversary. It’s not just to mention that, to date, I cannot look at a single special about it. I cannot read alternate theories about it. I refuse to talk about it, except in a written format. I say a prayer, I say a few words and I’m done because I just… I can’t. But I’m not writing about all of this to make you think of me as weak or a coward or a fool. I’m writing about this because of a few things I read once.
I read from a fellow Kemetic that recons tend to sit back and enjoy the relative ease with which they spend their time, reading and crafting and researching a religion. This person went on to say that sometimes, you had to shit or get off the pot. It was the act of doing either that would send a recon into hysterics, they went on to say, because there was only so much researching when sometimes we had to just do. This same person, later, wrote about how we should look to local and continental festivals to add to our little books and calendars. This way, not only would we be neck-deep in the religion we were hoping to revive, but that we could also foster a connection with our land, our people, and everything in between. I believe the person in question was discussing a holiday in her neck of the woods, but now I’m beginning to think if maybe a patriotic holiday may not need an addition into my calendar.
Even though we already have holidays that honor the dead fighters who fought so bravely for us in numerous formats, I’ve never felt a connection with them. I think of them as too amoeba-like for me to grasp onto. Sure, I sit down with the family and have a barbecue. I watch the fireworks that people shoot off and I eat the hamburgers that are grilled in their own juices. I talk and chat and have fun, but these are nation-wide rituals and beliefs. I’m a solitary by nature as well as by design. There’s a reason why I tend to keep to myself and not just because some of the things that I remark upon aren’t popular. I was a wall flower as a child and I’m little different now. The only major difference is that I’ve taken that part of myself and helped to craft a religion that works for me. And in that religion, I have to also honor things that are massive import to myself and what I see and what I feel.
So, I think, tonight.
I think there will be a little remembrance here. Nothing large, mind you. It won’t ever end up as an amoeba-like growth that the country can latch on to. But it will be a part of my calendar.
Not just because I was unable to mourn when I should have and not just because I want to craft something all my own. But because it’s necessary. It’s needed. And it’s mine.