I wasn’t going to write about 9/11, but here in the 9th circuit of hell, our city council decided at the last minute not to ring the bell in remembrance citing, well, bureaucracy. Translated that means, we’ve decided to play politics just because we can.

So I guess it is now imperative that I do exactly that. Remember.

I do. I remember 9/11, how surreal it all was. My youngest was a baby at the time and we sat there in horror glued to the TV unable to believe it was real, waiting for a disclaimer to go across the screen, a disclaimer that never came.

My second thought was, life as we knew it has just changed forever.

And than I thought, remember Elsye Mitchell. Elyse Mitchell and five Sunday school children become the first and only civilian casualties of enemy fire on the US mainland during WW2. It’s a terrible story, tragic and heartbreaking. On a picnic on May 5, 1945, Elyse and the children suddenly came upon a Japanese balloon bomb in the woods. While her husband watched in horror it exploded and they were all killed instantly.

Nobody really knew what a balloon bomb was at that time or that any had landed on US soil. There were sightings and rumors but the military had censored the information, not wanting the Japanese to know they had been successful. And it worked, believing the balloon bombs had never reached America, they soon abandoned the project.

I was too young for Pearl Harbor, so I got to grow up in the safety and comfort of being an American who never had to fear seeing war on our own soil. We tend to take those kinds of things for granted when they are all we’ve ever known. 9/11 forever shattered that illusion for us, that sense of safety.

Elyse Mitchell’s sad story came to mind in part because I know the importance of remembering our history and in part because I take some comfort in her story. Far away from the battlefield, safely here at home in a remote Oregon forest, six Americans were killed by enemy fire on May 5, 1945.

Safety, much like freedom, is a state of mind, a spiritual certainty, not a physical one marked by circumstances or geography. That is a bit disconcerting, but it is also reassuring because a state of mind cannot be stolen from you, not for long, anyway.

On Paper Wings tells a story of our American resilience.

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