While We Were Sleeping

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November 10, 2009 | Comments

On September 11, 2001, we were sleeping. And on September 11, 2001, we were attacked. As never before.

When we emerged from the fog, we entered our new world. We were changed. For a while. Some forever. We spoke of good and evil. We embraced our flag. And we were changed. For a while. Or forever.

But so were we told to relax. To close our eyes. To sleep. Like toddlers at bedtime. It will be okay, they said. We’ll take care of it. We will embrace them. Accept them. Be civilized. And they will forgive us. Just watch.

So we were. Civilized. And our country, she closed her eyes. Civilized. Yes, we were at war. Yes, some meant us harm – 3,000 souls attest to that. But they aren’t all that way, we were told. Still, those that aren’t didn’t speak up. Yet we knew, we were told, they aren’t all that way. So we weren’t to speak up either. Civilized, remember? Tolerant. Be that. Close your eyes. Sleep.

And while we were sleeping, they took hold. Eight years. They knew we were sleeping and they used it. More attacks came. Even more were thwarted. We weren’t told of those, but we found out anyway. And still we heard time and again: lone gunman, no affiliations, no suspicions. We said very little. We remained civilized. Quiet. Sleeping. They aren’t all that way. Close your eyes. Sleep. Many did.

But even more of us didn’t.

Like toddlers at bedtime, we watched, as though spying down the stairs, listening to mom and dad at the kitchen table. We heard a truth we knew already. In our hearts, we knew the truth, which always finds its way.

Some of us spoke of what we knew. What we saw. What we believed. They called us names. But still we would not sleep.

And now it happens again. Eight years later. And our soldiers took the bullet. On our own sacred ground. And again, those who are civilized tell us we are wrong. They tell us to relax. To sleep. Like toddlers at bedtime. It will be okay, they say. They aren’t all that way. And they won’t say the words. They hide behind “stress.” They hide behind “trauma.” They won’t say the words, even when honoring the dead. Again they tell us to tolerate. To sleep. To trust.

But we say no. We will not listen. We have seen our people die. Then.  And now. Many of us said no then. Even more of us say it now.

And again they call us names. But our pledge is to the truth, which always finds its way. And now, this time, even more stand with us. We will not sleep. We will listen to what is true, as it always finds its way. And we will trust those who live with honor, who love our country and our children. Those who took the bullet. And those who will. For us and for our children. Those who will say the words. Those who will not sleep.

They know we do not sleep either. Not this time. For as we have learned, far too much can harm us and our children, far too much can harm our country, while we are sleeping.

Betsy Siino | Comments