CAMPOut: There'll Be Bluebirds Over...
|by Fay Jacobs|
I don't think that any person who is privileged enough, as I am, to see their words published on a regular basis, could go back to the everyday business of writing without covering last week's tragic terrorist attacks and loss of life. I know I can't.
As our global, national, and local communities unite in horror over the events, and as our hearts go out to the people killed and the families forever altered, the kinships we have, whether biological or by affinity, are what get us through.
As I sit here typing, on the wall above the computer monitor is a poster-sized photo I once took of the world trade center towers. Formerly a symbol of my "I Love New York" hometown pride, it's now a much more moving tribute.
Like everyone else, for me this last week has been steeped in disbelief, anger, fear, and the need to connect and re-connect with those we love. Bonnie and I were scheduled to dine with a group of friends on that awful Tuesday night, and we phoned to see if it was still "on."
"We might as well all watch this unfold together" said our prospective hostess.
So that's what we didgather with one of our special families, and experience the awfulness of the events together. The hello hugs were longer, the conversations were more serious, and the realization that our community of Rehoboth friends will be there in good times and bad was a comfort to us all.
Over the succeeding days I watched TV until I could no longer stand to see those incessant reruns of the planes diving into the skyscrapers and people running, like Indiana Jones, from the ball of billowing black smoke chasing them.
By Friday, I had to be in an Annapolis recording studio preparing the music for a show I'm rehearsing. By happenstance it showcases the music of the 1940s, including the inspiring tunes of World War II. Both the pianist and I had tears rolling down our faces as he played The White Cliffs of Dover followed by strains of Rule Britannia. The London Blitz wasn't just "over there" anymore.
On Saturday, our trio of performers rehearsed the show in one members' living room. The gorgeous afternoon, prompting wide open windows to savor this first crisp fall day, sent our sentimental journey of Glenn Miller's In the Mood wafting all over the neighborhood.
When we got to our first act finale, and the second verse of God Bless America, I glanced out the window and saw a man across the street, who'd stopped mowing his lawn, and stood, head bowed, listening. It took my breath away. Fortunately, next up was the Andrews Sisters and we could get silly again.
As Bonnie and I drove back to Rehoboth on Sunday night, along roads dotted with American flags flying from homes, businesses and vehicles, I was moved by the number of signs announcing prayers for the victims and the simple message "God Bless America."
More than once, radio commentators talked about the coming together of all Americans in this crisiswe were no longer Democrat or Republican, gay or straight, black or white, we were Americans.
Back at my computer, my sadness turned to fury when my friend Kathy sent me an e-mail. " FayLike most of us, I had wondered (what prompted the attack on the World Trade Towers.) But after reading this I finally understand. Turns out it's our fault (or yours, but I'm counting myself in with the Pagans).K"
She attached a September 15 article by Dan Thomasson of the Scripps Howard News Service.
"WASHINGTONOne religious fanatic is pretty much like another when it comes to using the Bible or the Koran to justify the most unimaginable barbarisms. If there was much doubt about this, two of America's champion evangelical zealotsJerry Falwell and Pat Robertsonput it to rest with an extraordinary example of insensitivity and bad taste.
Both voiced the belief that the deaths of thousands of Americans at the hands of terrorists was inspired by God as a way of getting even with those who condone feminism, homosexuality, abortion rights and any number of civil liberties the two have no use for.
"God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve," Falwell said during a television appearance on Robertson's "700 Club," a Christian Broadcast Network showcase of right-wing religious dogma with an audience of millions.
"The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked," he was quoted as saying. "I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle...all of them who have tried to secularize AmericanI point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.'"
Omigod. I stared at the vicious words of Falwell and Robertson and wanted to scream.
I looked at Friday's Washington Blade. The front page announced that among the terrorist's victims was David Charlebois, the openly gay co-pilot of American Airlines Flight 77 and businessman Mark Bingham, who may have been among the men who overpowered the hijackers on the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.
In addition, Father Mychal Judge, the chaplain of the New York Fire Department and an activist for gay rights and AIDS relief, died in the rubble of the World Trade Towers, as well as two gay men and their adopted child who were aboard one of the hijacked planes. As details filter out, it's clear that there were gay heroes and gay victims, as well as feminists, pro-choice advocates and any number of so-called pagans with secular views among the firefighters, police officers, health care workers, and, of course, hundreds of hardworking people who were able to flee the towers...and those who are still entombed there. But it certainly didn't matter on September 11 whether they were gay or not or what lifestyle views they held. They were Americans, as we all are, no matter how the despicable Falwell and Robertson want to impune and splinter us.
So it's a week later. And just like the stock market, government, schools and outlet malls, we all have to absorb the shock and, then considering ourselves fortunate, return to our livesshaken, profoundly sad and more worried perhaps, but back to the business of living.
I realized this when, after days of watching the tragic stories on TV something made me laugh. A good belly laugh. And though I felt guilty having a side-splitting I-gotta-pee laugh even as Peter Jennings was somberly droning on, I realized that sooner or later we have to stop obsessing about the lunatic terrorists and get back to our garden variety lunatics.But how, when everything else seems awfully trivial? I mean it was just my luck that this was one of those few weeks when I'd started work on my column well before deadline. And there was plenty of fodder prior to September 11. Between Gary Condit and Anne Heche, I figured I could rant and rave for a good long time. I'll get to it next time. For now, God Bless us all, everyone.
Fay Jacobs, a national award winning columnist, is a regular contributor to Letters from CAMP Rehoboth.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 11, No. 13, September 21, 2001.