The Survivors of 9/11

According to a friend who would know these things, 47,000 people worked at the WTC and didn’t die. About 26,000 worked at the Pentagon. Every year on this day, we remember and mourn those who were killed, at least we should, and think of the family members left behind – without a spouse, parent, sibling, partner, friend, co-worker.

But the ones who lived through September 11, 2001 – what about them, eleven years later? How have they coped? How do they reconcile the fact that they were spared from death while others around them perished? Many of them struggle, each day, eleven years later.

There can be tremendous feelings of guilt associated with surviving what kills others. Men and women experience it after a war. Some of my classmates at Providence College experienced it after a terrible fire just before Christmas 1977 killed ten young women.

So today, please remember the nearly 3,000 people who died. And don’t forget the ones who lived, the ones who just try to get through today, and every day, hoping to find the reason. I wish them peace.

Pyro-Punk, Whistling Whirl, and Sky Lanterns

I love to watch fireworks.  Comfortably at home and tuned in to “A Capitol Fourth.”  At McCoy Stadium after the PawSox game.  Once riding a Bonanza bus home from Boston, looking out the window and seeing them light up the sky.  They symbolize Independence Day and Americana.

I hate fireworks!  In 2010, Rhode Island passed a law making roadside fireworks sales legal.  The brilliant lawmakers must have thought we’d be raking in the dough on this one.  They were worried we were giving Connecticut our money, the way we do in their casinos.  Right.

So here we are in this terrible economy and there are more fireworks vendors up and down Route 2.  By the way, “Route 2” is just like anything you have near your home, a secondary state road that is littered with pop-up chain stores.  In this case, I’m referring to the five-mile stretch of road from the East Greenwich town line to the Cranston town line.  Used to be mostly farmland; in fact, one part of the road is called Quaker Lane and one part is called Bald Hill Road.  Now it gives you two Paneras, three Dunkin Donuts shops, two malls, McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, KFC, Best Buy, Staples, Target, five supermarkets, car dealerships, oh, and a bunch of “For Lease” signs.

And fireworks displays.  Under white tents usually found in a backyard for a cook-out or next to a church for a strawberry social, now there are fireworks for sale.  And who’s buying them in this depressed economy?

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A guy pulls the last twenty-dollar bill from his wallet.  The “Light of Liberty Fountain” is $7.99.   The “Blue Streak Rocket” is $9.99.  But the 12-piece “Party Poppers” – just $2.99.  The same people who were complaining they couldn’t fill their gas tank last month are shelling out grocery money for fireworks.  And at eleven o’clock tonight, we’ll still be unable to sleep.