Monday, September 12, 2011

A Decade of Remembrance | King County Fire District 20 (Skyway Fire) and Community Remember 9/11

Hi Colleagues,

I attended the King County Fire District 20 (Skyway Fire Department) "Decade of Remembrance" Ceremony on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11:

Salutes during Taps (above)

A favorite image of the event 
in addition to the leading image (above)
King County Fire District 20 (Skyway Fire) (above)
Dignitaries including Sen. Margarita Prentice (seated; above)
Reception (above)

Facilities and Remembrance location (above series)

Skyway VFW Ladies Auxiliary Representatives (above series)

Training Tower through the trees (above)
I grew up on the West Hill in Bryn Mawr, so it fit to commemorate 9/11 there with King County Fire District 20 (Skyway Fire).  Grandpa often visited them in Skyway, whether in emergency or just because.  A decade ago these responders helped him when he walked in with signs of a heart attack and answered many-a-call for Grandma and Grandpa's health emergencies.

On my way to the remembrance, the streets were relatively clear and quiet.  Even with the somber tone of the day, I felt happy and at peace to return to my neighborhood.  I also feel a bit of pride and enthusiasm for Skyway's future.  Skyway community groups work to build the area, such as the West Hill Community Council, West Hill Business Association, responders, residents, and the VFW's contribution, which collectively will revitalize the area and reduce crime.  Learn more about Skyway's history.

After the remembrance, a woman touched my arm and complimented my choice of dress.

"It looks like red poppies!"

Red poppies achieved folklore status after a Canadian Lt. Col. McCrae, MD, wrote and published Flanders Fields in 1915 and American Moina Michael wore a poppy while she worked at a New York City YMCA canteen in memory of those who died in battle.  My new friend's compliments gave me relief over my choice of dress.  I did not want to wear all black; too depressing.  The red flowers felt right.  I managed to thank her and somehow thought it appropriate to tell her the dress only cost $6.  No matter.  She was impressed.  T
hen she invited me to Skyway VFW and Ladies Auxiliary's hamburger and taco dinner on Thursdays from 6-8pm.

Our long-time church friend Dwayne, a retired volunteer firefighter at Skyway, gave me a tour of the facilities and introduced me to his colleagues.  I marveled at their hospitality, including the chief's invitation to come back and visit, and the spread of danishes, cookies, and beverages for guests.  I say marveled because it seems we, as a community, ought to be treating them.  I felt welcome.

A Decade Ago

Flowers at statue at Skyway Fire Department (above 2)
Community members left flowers at fire houses
for months and subsequent anniversaries after 9/11
A Decade Later

I later reflected that interacting with responders and residents in my neighborhood of origin gave me a sense of connection that I lacked 10 years ago.  Ten years ago I struggled with fear, which promotes a sense of disconnect and divided mind (1 John 4:18-19; Freire, 1970; 1994).  This remembrance highlighted change.  I'm different, we're different, than I/We were 10 years ago.  The shock of a surprise attack has now become our plane of information in the back of our minds.  We organize, communicate, and gather with that reference.  We are better prepared, such as with Incident Command System (ICS) response strategies.  King County, home of Skyway Fire, designated September as National Preparedness Month.

Healing Our Sense of Home

Two-Towers Stand Tall as guarded by Two Sentinels
Illumined with Love from the Pacific Northwest (above)

I am persuaded that much of 9/11 ten years ago had to do with fear/hate, the spirit of which remains.  Living beyond fear means choosing to engage in those very things of importance to you, those good things that in spite of their goodness illicit fear.  Our healing comes not when a clock strikes the time triggering our memories.  Our healing comes as we choose how to live together in a spirit of love and gratitude instead of fear/hate.   I encourage people to contribute their vocation to serve others while learning from them through inquiry and so together benefit the health of our collective society and collective will.

A decade later, I am grateful that we commemorated the event together.  That's what communities do. That's why The U.S.A. Bill of Rights gives us freedom to assemble, freedom of religion, and freedom to speak.  The acts of gathering, worshiping, and speaking together constitute our public commons, our infrastructure, and our communal power (see Parker Follett, 1918).  I felt touched by taps and inspired by the chaplain's prayer to "do all things in love."  

Overall, building from Mattingly (1998), healing necessitates a coming together of mind-spirit-embodied person as a whole.  Healing means reconciling being halved in a broken world by responding in ways that return wholeness.  Healing requires finding connectedness and confidence and then contributing to community in kind.  Being whole needs a bit of reflection to fuel insight and foresight for the future.  For instance, I'm astounded at how active my life appears now when compared to the 9/11 season.  For example, I want to contribute to healthy societies through scholarship and work in community relations such as with communicationwritingphotographyhuman development, and public information.  Living things grow, living beings remember, and living creatures choose how to live.  

After the event I walked about Skyway and photographed my "old stomping grounds," including my church of my childhood, now Korean Baptist Church, the Post Office, and of course, the trees.  A decade ago I drove Grandma to the bank where she deposited her check at the counter and asked for quarters for Aunt Judy's work snacks.  A decade later, as I walked about, I gazed into the distance and admired the hills and trees.  The sun shone, the sky spread blue, and the wind blew through my hair.  That old crazy rooster still crows all day long, and the streets were quiet.  I forgot how the electric lines snap above you in the air.  For awhile I lost myself in patches of pink and white morning glory that laced over gravel.  I bent over photographing the bees as they worked their harvest.

Many property owners kept up their landscapes boundaried by new fences and dotted with a variety of flowers and hedges.  My favorite property was the sage house with purple flowers.  A decade ago I drove our niece to her pre-K and Kindergarten class at Thomson Center.  Since those days, builders tore down Thomson to build the Renton School District's Maintenance Center.  Amid the new or upkept infrastructure, I felt the pride and satisfaction in Skyway, a spirit that if cultivated, empowers that neighborhood.

I returned to my car, now hot inside from the near-noonday sun.  I smiled thinking that together we redeemed a beautiful sunny day.  That may sound a paradoxically strange thing to say, but a decade ago, persons and politics hostile to other persons and politics delivered a negative pairing for a sunny blue sky.  Today, a decade later, I appreciated the spansive blue sky and unseasonably warm sun, which broke Seattle's record for a whopping 9 days in a row of weather 80' or warmer.  Gold and blue, red, white, and blue, and the red poppies on my black dress.  Have you noticed how colors and scenery make a difference?

As I drove down Renton Avenue, I felt happy and at peace, and I thought that both odd and fitting.  Soon I would pull into Renton Municipal Airport to photograph the flags at half mast, the monument, and touch-n-goes.  For now, a decade later, I will remember this 9/11 as a coming home.

In a Spirit of Love and Gratitude,
We Find Home.



Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed.  New York:  Continuum.

Mattingly, C. (1998).  Healing dramas and clinical plots: The narrative structure of experience.  New York: Cambridge.

Parker Follett, M. (1918). The new state. Danvers, MA: General Books.

Rogers, C. (1989).  On becoming a person:  A therapist’s view of psychotherapy.  New York:  Houghton Mifflin.

Rogers, C.R. (1994). The necessary and sufficient conditions a therapeutic personality change.  In R. Anderson, K.N. Cissna, & R.C. Arnett (Eds.), The reach of dialogue: Confirmation, voice and community (pp. 126-140).  Hampton, NJ: Hampton.