Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Reality of Their Childhood

I was in high school when the Oklahoma City bombing happened.  I remember being in keyboarding class with the very German named Mrs. Schottenstraussenburg or something like that, and she was so upset.  I remember hearing about it and learning it was Timothy McVeigh, and I remember a trial and a conviction.  But, I don't remember being affected.  He was on death row and it wouldn't happen again.

I was in college when Columbine happened.  I watched the news horrified, but I didn't internalize it.  I didn't fear that it would happen again.  They were dead and it was over.

I was a working adult when 9/11 happened.  I was terrified.  I was affected.  I internalized.  I knew it could happen again.  I knew it wasn't over.

Now, as I watch the coverage of what happened in Boston yesterday, I am realizing something.  My kids will never grow up the way I did.  I don't just mean a world without cell phones and Kimye, I mean a world without terrorism.  Tabbi was only two when 9/11 happened.  She will never live in a world where you don't go through airport security barefoot.  Will, 6,  knows about Sandy Hook.  He will always attend school where the drills are not just fire and tornado, but stranger in the building, too.  And Jack, yesterday, learned what a bomb is.  Not just something on a video game, but a real thing that is not just limited to war zones, but can be on our streets.  That's the reality of their childhood.

That makes me angry.  I am angry that my kids know the depths of evil that people are capable of.  I am angry that people, foreign and domestic, think that killing innocent people somehow proves whatever point they are trying to make, and that my kids could grow up more aware of Al-Qaeda or James Holmes than Ghandi and Nelson Mandela.

I am angry at those who make my kids lose a little bit of their youthful innocence every time this happens.  And, I am angry that the evil cowards who choose these actions don't realize the things that I have learned....

You aren't a martyr, but you create them.  You martyr the innocent 8 year old boy that you killed yesterday.  The boy who was waiting for his daddy at the finish line.  Christina Taylor Green, the 9 year old girl who died in the attack on Gabby Giffords, will never be forgotten.  But, the man who shot her?  I don't know your name.  You're nothing.

You aren't seen as a hero.  Osama Bin Laden ran into caves and compounds and hid from the world like a scared weak mouse.  But the heroes, they ran into those engulfed buildings and they tried to get people out.  Heroes aren't hiding behind the bombings yesterday praying they don't get caught.  Heroes carried the wounded out of the chaos.  Heroes held the hand of a total stranger whose legs were gone.  Heroes are providing medical care, and hunting you down.  You're not a hero, but man... you created a lot of them.

You didn't break us.  I can't remember a time where I've seen more American flags and a stronger united country than I did on September 12th, 2001.  And, it kept going for quite awhile.  But, politics and opinions and elections get in the way, and suddenly we find ourselves divided again.  And so you strike.  You strike at a country who isn't unified under a single goal, but were you the last straw that cracks us apart forever?  No.  You're glue.  You unified a country again, and awoke a sleeping beast.  There is nothing stronger than this country's desire to protect and fight for our own.  Instead of breaking us, you walked right into the eye of the storm.  You volunteered to be the common enemy that we will hunt down like a rabid dog.  It may take awhile, and you may think you're safe.  But, you're not.  We will find you, and when we do, the wrath of a unified country strong in its conviction and dedicated to these martyrs and heroes will come down on you the likes of which you cannot imagine.

My kids may live in a world where terrorism exists, but it comes with a world of real life super heroes.  When we talk about it, we will talk about the heroes more than the villains.  The bad people will choose to do what they do, and the good... they will do what they do, too.  They will be the teachers hiding their students in the closet and keeping them quiet and safe.  They will be the firemen running full speed into the burning buildings.  They are our military men and women battling the roots of evil and defending our way of life.  They are the every day strangers using the shirts off their backs to stem the bleeding.  Like Mr. Rogers says, "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”  So, if you're going to make my kids live in a world where these things exist, I can't stop it.  But, they'll know the helpers and heroes are here, too.