September 11th, The day the twin towers fell in New York City, New York.
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It was a chilly morning I had kindled a small fire in the wood stove, driving out the morning chill. The wife and I had just sat down with our first cup of coffee for the day we were chatting about the evening before. Our favorite morning news program playing on the television in the background. When our attention was drawn to the breaking news signal one of the Trade Center Towers was on fire.
We sat there like so many other Americans that day, we watched in horror as the plane hit the second tower. People running for their lives, reports of another plane crash in Pennsylvania then reports of a plane crash hitting the Pentagon.
The morning wore on with replay after replay of the towers collapsing upon themselves. Reports of terrorists highjacking airplanes, a foiled hijacking resulting in the crash landing in Pennsylvania. Across the nation a call went up for prayer with every Church opening its doors.
Factories and shops across the nation closed their doors. I remember my wife asking me to call into the shop to see if they were going to close like so many others where. The phone had rang and rang till finally one of the secretaries answered. I was then informed that everyone was scheduled to work a full shift, car parts had to be made. I said OK and thanked her before hanging up the phone.
We ate our dinner together in silence, packed my lunch for work that night then headed out to the truck. We held onto each other a bit longer then normal before I climbed into the truck. Turning to my wife I remember saying, “If things turn bad. I will be home no mater what.”
The hour plus drive seemed to drag on longer then normal, the radio interrupting the music for more News updates.
After arriving at the shop I joined other people standing around in the parking lot. Everyone was comparing notes as to what they had heard over the news.
The biggest question everyone was asking was WHY. Why did they attack us? What did we ever do to them? Everyone hurried inside at the rumor of some breaking news on the television. Where the same questions were being asked. Theories of Why being offered.Covering from revenge for the Crusades to wanting to regain control of the oil fields in their own country. Even revenge for Americas treatment of their country being offered up.
Time had come for everyone to go out to their assigned work station. 1st shift asking people for any new news. 2nd shift people asking if they where going to go to the Church services being offered up. I climbed aboard my Fork-lift and prepared to start my shift.
The need to provide the parts and raw material for several welding stations soon occupied my time.
The rumors of today’s tragedy still moved from one person to the next. One work Station to the next. Somebody had managed to turn on a hidden radio. People would pause to listen to some news update while watching for the roving supervisor. Then pass on anything new to those around them. One of the biggest news items was plants and factories where closing their doors to allow people to go to their place of worship.
An outcry was beginning to spread. The roving supervisor was asked the same question over and over again. When can we go home? We want to attend prayer services for the Victims.
During my travels all through the plant I was approached by three other Native Americans. All three seeking a pipe Ceremony and prayers for those lost. We talked briefly of when we might be able to perform this Ceremony. I told all of them lets wait and see if and when the shop will let us go home.
The rumors had changed from why can’t we leave to when we might be able to leave.
Finally the word came, the announcement coming across the shop PA system. All those wanting to leave to attend prayer services should report to Al in the Cafeteria. I drove my Fork-lift to the Cafeteria and waited for my turn to talk with Al. I stood there with my three companions.
We approached Al when our turn came. Telling him that we would like to leave to attend our Ceremony.
Now Al says to me. “Wait a minute. We need a Fork-lift driver. I know you are not a Christian. You will not be going to any Church. I need you to stay and drive Fork-lift for me.”
I stood there looking at Al. As the shock of what I just heard wore off. A slow burning anger began inside of my being. Quickly I squelched the rising flames. Trying at first to reason with Al. Explaining to him ounce again. That I was a Native American Pipe Carrier..
That as a pipe carrier. I had certain responsibilities. I told Al , I had been asked as a Pipe Carrier. To perform a Pipe Ceremony and Prayers for the victims of the plane crashes.
Al looked at me and said. “I am sorry. You are not Christian or Jewish you will not be going to a church or Synagogue. I do not know what kind of party you are planning with your pipe. I know your a non Church going type. I need to have a fork-lift driver. Your it, you have to stay.”
I was shocked and dismayed over what I had just heard. I couldn’t believe what had just came pouring from Al’s lips. My anger flared up again. I struggled with the urge to just smack Al across the face for his heartless remark. Pulling myself back from the urge. I remembered his comments came from Ignorance of Native American beliefs. Mastering my self control again. I calmly asked him. “What would happen if I leave anyway?”
A scowl crossed Al’s face. “You will be written up and perhaps fired,” he said.
I nodded my head with resignation for, The Powers that be. Many on that day September 11th, asked some simple questions. Why us? Why did so many have to die? What did we ever do to those people for them to hate us so?
The Powers that be, Industry or American Government one in the same or totally separate. Industry concerned with production levels and the bottom line.American Government concerned with production levels and the bottom line.
American Industry grudgingly bowing to America’s crisis. Allowing some to attend their place of worship. While restraining others to maintain a level of productivity.
The American Government, Allowing some to attend to their business, place of worship, Traditional life style. While retraining others from doing the same. I for one would like to know what America has done to cause open revolt? Has America in its arrogance become like Germany of the 1940’s? Has America become so concerned with the bottom line she has put profits above human dignity? Hard questions that only America can answer herself.