Volume XVII, Issue 37 # September 10 - September 16, 2009

Bay Reflections

From Shoes to Marriage to Graveyards

Measuring 9/11’s changes, by standards small and large

by Ben Miller

Wise people, and those not so wise, say the world has changed since 9/11.

How has it changed?

Historians, journalists and artists have their own perspectives — both accurate and flawed — and they will have their judgments 10, 20, 40 and more years from now.

We each have our own views, as we each had our own experiences during that beautiful and shattering September day.

There have been changes; some big, others small.

Badges: Photo identification cards and restricted entries are standard procedure.

Shoes: Air travel is more difficult, despite the cheeriness of many of the federal transportation workers.

Fear: Our personal radars — having already been scanning for dangers — are more alert for threats and even more desirous of protection and guarantees.

Connections: For a while, people thought of people from their past. I did.

Cathy, my college girlfriend, lived in Larchmont, New York, northeast of the city. I imagined her being able to see the burning towers from the waterfront park. I didn’t call her then, but three years later I did.

I don’t know if the events caused the call, but Cathy and I were married in 2005.

Empathy: Puzzled by events, people sought answers and learned about Arabs and other Muslims and the religion of Islam.

War: The United States has been at war for eight years since October 7, 2001. At first, most civilians without family in the armed services were insulated from the direct effects. Slowly, as happens with all wars, the circle widened to affect us all.

Dollars: The fiscal costs of war and security are being passed down to the future. We won’t know the costs in treasure for years to come.

Sacrifice: The costs in blood are known immediately.

The Antietam National Cemetery in Sharpsburg, Maryland, is a restful burying place for Union soldiers killed in the Civil War battle of Antietam, on September 17, 1862.

Trees shade the graves. A giant statue of a Union soldier looms above. A stone wall enclosing the cemetery offers views of the battlefield and the rolling western Maryland countryside.

Soldiers and sailors who served in other wars — the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II and the Korean War, and sometimes their wives — are buried here, too.

The cemetery has not been open for burials since 1953, but if you follow the wall around the perimeter you will find the more recent burial of a sailor for whom an exception was made.

A white headstone marks the grave of United States Navy Fireman Patrick Howard Roy. Roy was killed in the bombing of the USS Cole in Aden harbor in Yemen on October 12, 2000. He was just 19 when he died.

We can all connect the dots of events today. But then — in the year 2000 — neither he, nor we, could know what was to come.