9/11 brought America together

Published 7:05 pm Friday, September 11, 2020

It is appropriate that I would write about 9/11 after the fact.

There are many things that we think about now that we never thought about before.

It was surreal that morning in 2001. We didn’t have cell phones with cameras. Texting was unusual, if we even did it. Facebook would not exist for another three years. So, the information was not as forthcoming as we think of normal now.

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I remember I was in surgery spaying a litter of kittens before adoption when my husband called. The receptionist took the message, because, well, I was in surgery.
(I still remember Muffin, one of those cats occasionally although I have not seen her for a couple of years. I don’t know if her parents moved to be with grandkids, had health problems, don’t like me anymore or just haven’t made it back in yet.)

We were in the old clinic on Route 5 then. There were two TVs in the exam rooms, but no antenna. When we turned them on, we could hear the news, but only video static.

Still we stood around the TV watching the grainy screen for a flash of a photo. Then we heard about the Pentagon and the missing plane in Pennsylvania. We were stunned and in disbelief. We went home as early as we could to be close to loved ones.

I abhor commercial TV. We had made a decision not to have cable TV or a good antenna, so we went to M’Kinzy’s adopted grandparents to watch after work. We saw the video of the planes hitting the Twin Towers, again and again and again over the next few weeks. We tried to keep our 1-year-old from seeing too much..

Certainly when I remember 9/11, I remember that tower scene. But more than that, I remember seeing photos on the internet of rows and rows of flowers outside an American embassy; what seemed like thousands of candles lit at a monastery in India; flowers and gifts outside the embassy in Moscow and many, many photos from around the world.

The entire world seemed to stand with us and our pain. My email vet lists had support pouring in for days and weeks from people around the world. I don’t know that we discussed any cases, because of the raw emotion that poured in. I didn’t respond to any of those emails, but they meant a lot to me.

I remember waiting to see what else was going to happen as we found the extent of who was missing and what had happened.

Years later, I would find that I knew people at the pentagon that died that day.
I remember doing treatments and surgery in a fog of emotion and fear. But the photos of rescuers searching through rubble, flags being raised and the kindness of people gave me hope. And when I think of 9/11, and I do often, I think briefly of the Twin Towers plane and fire photo and move to a longer remembrance of flowers, we love the U.S. signs at worldwide demonstrations and the kindness of strangers.

For weeks, people would notice those around them. They would make eye contact and acknowledge them as people. The realization that tomorrow was not guaranteed was forefront in our minds.

We were proud to be Americans. Flags flew high and proud. We started to say thank you to those who had served in the military. I thought our nation changed for the better.

But in the days leading up to this anniversary, I have seen my community torn apart. We have had clients on both sides have to be told that we treat animals and practice tolerance for all who care for their pets. But outside our doors, we saw Americans spitting on other Americans for the way their lives are lead. Screaming and damning people to hell at protests.

And we are the lucky ones. Our community protests are largely peaceful protests, not riots. No cops have been shot just because they wear a uniform.

I spent my time in the military. I was willing to lay my life down for important things.
The Coast Guard had a saying that “you had to go out, but you didn’t have to come back.” Saving lives was important. There are things that are worth fighting for. Things that are worth dying for. To serve is important. I know what it means to serve and try to continue that in my veterinary practice, even if I no longer risk my life.

In the hours, days, weeks, and months after the 9/11 attacks, Americans lived in fear of more attacks, confusion on who and why we had attacks. Yet, we worked together in many thing and searched for survivors in a glow of worldwide support.

We said we would not forget, but it seems today we fight over things that are petty, insignificant. I believe there are things worth laying your life down for, but if it isn’t one of those things, could we try to get along? Our sameness is more important than our differences.

It shouldn’t take another 2,977 lives to remind us of that.

MJ Wixsom, DVM MS is a best-selling Amazon author who practices at Guardian Animal Medical Center in Flatwoods, Ky. GuardianAnimal.com 606-928-6566