Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Exercising Rights

Usually when driving I don’t listen to the radio. Occasionally I will listen to the news and maybe even the traffic. Today within one and half miles, I exercised several of the rights we have as Americans.

Waiting for the news to come on the young man speaking on the radio said, “the greatest crisis in our lifetime will be not passing health care”. Freedom of speech, I acknowledge his right to say it. Then in a loud, verbally outburst containing several adjectives I exercised another right – my right not to agree with him.

I then exercised a right we do not use enough - the power button. I exercised that right hard enough I thought I broke the button.

Driving down the road I started thinking of all the crisis’s that had occurred in my lifetime. The passing of family and friends, a number of wars, two space shuttle explosions, the assassination of a President, hurricanes, tornados, devastating wildfires. . . .the list kept growing. I also realized I had no idea how anyone could “rank” these in any particular order. Each and every one of them was a crisis.

As Americans, we also have the right to fly the flag. I’d encourage you to do so on September 11th and here’s why . . . .

Flag 2172
September 12, 2005. Today I walked amongst 5,000 American flags. Each flag measured three feet by five feet and stood eight feet tall. They will be up for a week. It's called the 2005 Healing Field and was constructed on ten acres near my home. Each flag is labeled with a number and a name of someone who has died in the war against terrorism since September 11, 2001. This includes the victims of September 11th, the first responders, and military people who have died in the war against terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq. There is also a place where people from other countries have flags placed in their honor.

September 8, 2001. I had been there for a week and stood many times on my hotel balcony overlooking the city. Far off in the distance I could see the pentagon.

Tonight I was invited to join a group of foresters from Hawaii many from an organization called the Outdoor Circle. They were a fun group to be with. Our experiences in the tree world were different but also remarkably similar. As the evening wore on the group thinned out until it was just Christine Snyder and I. The place we met closed and we moved to the lobby of the hotel talking about families, programs, projects, but mainly about trees. Early the morning of September 9th before heading back to my room, I asked if she had any information on the Outdoor Circle. She assured me she did and she would get it to me before we left the following day.

That morning walking towards the shower I noticed a packet had been slipped under my hotel door. I opened it to discover all kinds of information about the Outdoor Circle and a note from Christine telling me she enjoyed our conversation the night before and was looking forward to staying in touch about tree programs and projects. I showered and headed to the airport. After a week in DC, I was finally heading home.

The flag above is flag 2,172. It has Christine Snyder's name on it. She was aboard flight 93 on September 11, 2001.


Blogger bobbie said...

Hi Ralph.
I'm sorry we may not agree on some things, like health care. But I certainly do agree that its passage is not "the greatest crisis in our lifetime".

September 11th is upon us once again. We all should pause in whatever else might be uppermost in our minds at the moment, and silently remember and honor those represented by your flags.

7:55 AM  
Blogger Cliff said...

I guess you know how I feel on all of this Ralph. I'm glad you re-ran this post. Always worth the read.

4:15 PM  
Blogger Granny Annie said...

Don't ever let us forget Ralph and always remind us Christine Snyder's death and all others during war are to protect our freedom to exercise our rights.

7:12 AM  
Blogger Paul Nichols said...

Another great post, Ralph. Thanks again.

No, I'll never forget.

7:44 AM  
Blogger namaste said...

a wonderful tribute. thank you for sharing your story.

9:02 AM  
Blogger Janell said...

I like your 9/11 story and the way you tell it. Thanks for posting it again. I'm glad Christine has a flag with her name on it.

12:10 PM  

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