Written in 2011 after a 4 day bus trip–Photos by Linda Seccaspina
In Laramie, Wyoming Laura fixes up the shelves waiting for the next bus to arrive. She counts on the people getting off that bus to come in and buy things from her store. This is cowboy country and the citizens are devoted to the red white and blue like no one else. None of them will ever forget what happened on 9-11, but top priorities are now about jobs and surviving. Laura worries more about keeping a roof over her head than the tenth anniversary she says sadly.
Also riding the bus is a woman that is saving a few children from a bad situation. One of her young charges is a teen from South Dakota who is facing prejudice from his peers because he is a Native American. Last week things got so bad two teens were shot near his home because there are those that still believe in their narrow minded worlds. People cannot get it through their thick skulls that we are really all one and the same. The other two children she is rescuing are barely three years old.
Their mother and father fell on very hard times and when jobs were lost both chose drugs to ease their worries. They are now in no condition to raise their children and decided their kids should have a better lifestyle. The grandmother has chosen to raise all three of these kids, and yes. she is worried about money and trying to find extra jobs to raise them. Their new-found mother wants them to have a better life that is free from drugs, poverty and prejudice.
As Marina walks through the bus terminal in Columbus, Ohio she talks to any passengers that will listen. They look at the gaping hole in her shoe and the broken down doll carriage she pushes and ignore her. Not one person takes the time to listen to her story, nor do they care. No one wants to hear about the loss of both her sons in Iraq, and how their death drove her to life in the streets. She continually pushes that baby carriage around the terminal with two stuffed animals that belonged to the sons she will never see again. Marina gave birth to two males that gave up their lives, yet no one cares, and all people can see is the craziness that she she now conveys to the world.
My favourite couple is Johnny and Angela who are traveling the roads with all of their worldly possessions. Johnny went to Iraq for a couple of tours. Angela, who could not cope with him being gone went into a mental depression and was hospitalized. When Johnny came back he was not in much better condition than Angela and the two of them pretty well lost everything, as well as some their minds. They lived in the streets for a few months and finally someone is helping them move to Oregon to see if they cannot start a better life. He dotes on her every word, and she sees the sun in his eyes as he pushes all their belongings on and off the bus at every stop.
A former veteran of Vietnam sits on the property of the Peppermill Casino in Nevada and begs for change. Two men go by and laugh at him even though he offered his life once to save their country. He looks downtrodden as I place some money at his feet and asks me,
“When will we they ever understand that it if it was not for us we might not be free?”
After the tragedy of 9-11 people immediately pulled it together. Neighbours helped neighbours, countries did not care about differences, and everyone tried to become one. I dreamed that after such a horrific period of time maybe the prejudices and imaginary caste system thoughts might finally go away.
At exactly 9:11 am someone’s cell phone rings in front of me and angry conversation ends as quickly as it began.
“If they do not pay the rent throw the whole family out! Who wants towel heads in the neighbourhood anyway?”
So after ten years it seems we are back to square one, and what exactly did we learn from 9-11? Was there not some sort of message we were to carry to our graves, or was it just me and a few others that realized that? We helped our fellow man through one of of the greatest tragedies of our time. How did people suddenly lose those thoughts and memories that if we do not work together all is lost? We had better find it before it becomes too late, and this time we might not have a second chance.
“This horrific event didn’t just alter all those whose lives were directly touched that day; it altered our country. We became fearful, we lost our optimism, we blamed others, we made excuses, we stopped caring for each other. The anthem of ‘we’ became a mantra of ‘me’. Yes, I’m overgeneralizing….but I don’t think by much. Maybe we can use the anniversary to self-examine and to make amends to the living. “
Dedicated to all those that lost their lives in 9-11 and to all those that continue to serve especially huge hugs to all the military families I see shopping in the Salmonrun Mall in Watertown, N.Y from Fort Hood. (Pic of American Flag in the Salmonrun Mall,Watertown NY)
Pic of The Crosses of Lafayette California for all those that perished in the Iraq and Afghanistan war.
Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place
Text and Images: Linda Seccaspina 2011