Tuesday, September 21, 2010

An Oral History

I subscribe to a periodic email newsletter from Mental Floss, and on a day home sick from work, while I was cleaning out my inbox, I came across a message in which Mangesh, one of the founders of the magazine and website, shared some of his 9/11 stories. From his name, it sounds like he "ain't from around here." I think that really means that he may have a far keener appreciation of this country than many of us who are of European descent. Whether or not that's true, he included a link to a short piece at StoryCorps, an oral history site.

Go and listen to John Vigiano tell about his sons, New York City firefighter John Jr. and New York City policeman Joe. His story will both break your heart and put a smile on your face.

September 11th has been on my mind a great deal lately. I was beyond disappointed in the news coverage from the major news outlets, especially since so much attention, on that day, was paid to the proposed Islamic Center near Ground Zero and to the Florida Koran-burning-that-wasn't. On that day, of all days, we needed to remember what happened in 2001. We needed to remember how we weren't Southerners or New Englanders or Midwesterners right after that day. We weren't black or red or white or yellow. We were just Americans. United in grief, in loss, in anger, in outrage.

I don't speak for anyone but myself, but I'd like to be just an American again. I don't need any other label for the world to know me. I don't need to start a fight with anyone over it, but I'd love to finish one that anyone else starts. Give me a chance, and if I can, I'll help anyone who needs it.

And honestly, I hope that I speak for Mangesh from Mental Floss, as well as for John Vigiano. They both spoke for me.

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