10 years ago today the world changed in 102 minutes. I’d like to say that I don’t remember the events of that dreadful day, but they will be forever burned into my mind. For my generation, this is the new day that will also live in infamy. I’ve been to Pearl Harbor and it touched me in ways that I never could begin to describe, but I wasn’t alive and didn’t live through it, live on TV, over and over again.
I am about to date myself here, but when I was growing up, we were SCARED of the “Russians”. The USSR was the big bad country that was out to get us. Even though I was a young teen ager in the 80’s, I distinctly remember going to bed afraid that the Russian’s would start a nuclear war. What would happen? Would it be as bad as the movies and TV say it would be? Why did they hate us so much? Did Russian teenagers have the same questions? I can still sing every word of The Police’s song, “Russians”. As Sting wrote, …”we share the same biology, regardless of ideology. I hope the Russians love their children too”.
But things changed. The Soviet Union fell and suddenly the super power was not as large and looming as it once was.
The 80’s came to a close and during most of the 90’s I was living in the metro Detroit area. If you lived in Detroit in the 90’s – you watched hockey, specifically the Red Wings. During the late 90’s, the Red Wings – featuring a line of all 5 former Soviet players, known as “the Russian 5”, were constantly battling their conference foe, the Colorado Avalanche. During one particular year’s hockey playoffs, I happened to be flying to Denver for work. I was seated next to a Denver couple – who were also hockey fans. There was a game that night, and since 90% of the flight were interested in these playoffs, the pilot would updated us periodically with a score. That night, the Red Wings were victorious. The female portion of the Denver couple next to me loudly proclaimed that she could never support a team that employed “Russians”. It was in this moment that I realized how ridiculous judging an entire country by a few political issues really was.
The morning of September 11, 2001, I was in my bosses (Ava’s) car traveling to a meeting. We had the radio off because we were talking and planning for a big upcoming promotion. The office called Ava’s cell phone and told us what was going on. For the next week I was glued to any media source I could get my hands on.
We were at war – and the Russians, who scared me all my life, weren’t involved. Just like back in the 80’s, and again in the 90’s, it was difficult for me to understand why someone would hate an entire country. I don’t know if I will ever truly understand that.
This morning I sit here with my two Russians, who are currently arguing over coloring books in the kitchen. I am thankful that they don't know yet the sadness of this day or what it means. I have been to Russia 5 times and would love to see so much more of the beautiful country that is my children’s homeland. I am thankful that our 80’s issues never became more than lingering lyrics to a song. I wish I could say the same for September 11th.
3 days ago