Monday, September 11, 2006

Seeing eye-to-eye with a liberal

Carl's a liberal blogger who writes Simply Left Behind. With links to websites such as DailyKos, Jesus' General, CanadianCynic, and the campaign websites for Ned Lamont and Hillary Clinton, it's easy to imagine us never seeing eye-to-eye.

But we have. For one brief, shining moment, we have.

After his friend's very touching tribute to firefighter Billy McGinn (which I recommend people read), Carl wrote this of the "2,996" project, which I cannot disagree with one bit:
It takes an act of God to unite Michelle Malkin and I on the same page, but it has happened.

I type this a full week ahead of the rememberance, and I cry typing it. As I read the list of tributes and read Mike's memories, I'm struck by two things.

First, how ordinary the people doing the tributes are. None of us are anybody special, there was no symposium of college professors or political heavyweights that assigned us the task. We are all volunteers. We have all asked for some small part (1/2,996th, to be precise) of this effort. Is it penance? Guilt? Patriotism?

No. It's love.

You see, the other thing I'm struck by is the ordinariness of the people we write about. Yes, some were heroes in the ultimate sense of the word, like Billy McGinn, rushing into buildings that sane people were rushing out of or trying to escape, or realizing they had no chance to get out and trying to make peace and offer comfort to those around them, or saving one building from one more plane. Many were not heroes in anyway than being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and we mourn them too, as heroes because like so many on this planet, they are merely for being there. All of them, all too human, with the flaws and foibles inherent in humanity. And all the grace, as Billy's life demonstrates.

All too mortal.

For my part, Lt. McGinn was about as close as I came to actually knowing someone who died that day. When I first found out about him, it was from Mike, who I proudly call my friend. As I searched the Net looking for information on his brother, Billy, I realized how heartbreaking the loss was. And then I multiplied this loss by the three thousand others.

Suddenly, the true weight, the truth of the tragedy, unfolded. As you scan the Net today, and read this and other tributes, I hope you too are overwhelmed by the fact that all these people had plans and hopes and dreams, families and friends, jobs, hobbies. They watched TV, ate lunch, attended parties and school plays, right alongside you and I, or people just like us.

They were, in fact, us. And it is in this spirit we write. Today, we do not mark their deaths. We celebrate the lives. Their lives, but also ours, because in these stories you're about to read (or have been reading), we see ourselves, our loved ones.

Our family.

And lest we forget, there are living victims, as well. The rescue workers who risked their lives and are now deathly sick for the risking. The men and women who stood on the debris pile to keep digging up bodies and body parts, who now cough and wheeze and wonder if it's a bad cold or asthma. Or worse. I know some of these people. As I've related in other pieces on this blog, I'm even friends with a few, people who were there, helping, even rescuing. Even getting caught in the collapses and finding safety and shelter.

The people who lived or worked (or both) down there, who now sit, sick with fear and wonder if they, too, might have life cut short.

We need to remember them, too. They're heroes, living among us.

My deepest thanks to Mike for writing such a beautiful story about his brother. I can picture Billy, and would like to have known him. Maybe had a beer with him.

You know, ordinary stuff.

It's amazing how extraordinary the "ordinary stuff" can be. It's seems like an oxymoron, but it is absolutely true. I learned that lesson from my father's example and events like 9/11 just continue to prove that.

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