Sunday, September 11, 2011

9-11-01: A day I will always remember.

It's strange to think that it has been 10 years already since the attacks of 9-11. Ten years since every American's life changed, and America changed. Now it seems that the whole world is different, and the promise of a new millennium, of a fantastic future is tainted with terror, paranoia and violence. The first decade of the the 21st century is a decade of war and upheaval.
Ten years ago, just a couple days after the attacks, some friends of mine and I got the idea to paint a flag in a public place. We felt we had to do something, in a way I don't think we had ever felt before.

Down the road from where I was living at the time was a 7-11 that was run by some Indians (Dot, not Feather) and we asked them if we could paint our flag on their building, and they let us. I don't know what they thought of it, but they let us, and that was enough.

So on Sept 13, 2001, This is what my friends and I did. We ended up doing two different flags, and also repainted the7-11 flag three times, more on that as we get into the pictures. 
The First shot of a blank wall.
The First of us to join in. From L to R: Dawn Crider, Davin Yant, Kenny Puckett, Mark Young, Tammy Forrester, and Myself.
As we got into it, more people started to join us; (LtR) Adam Marsh, Me, Dawn Crider, Tammy Forrester and Mark Young.

As the day went on, people would honk as they drove by, and a Channel 3 TV crew stopped by and started filming us as we finished the piece. The Owner of the Four Kings Bar also stopped and asked if we could do this again at his bar. Later we also found out that they played a clip of that Channel 3 bit on the big screen for the World Series that year, when the Diamondbacks beat the Yankees. Of course, we did. it almost felt like we started something. We were a small part of the response.

We felt that we had done something that day, and it started some kind of healing I think.

 The Flag at the Four Kings started a bit differently. It was more organized and involved alot more people, and it took almost twice as long to paint. I figure that makes sense, this time we were at a bar, and this was more of a social event in addition to the painting.

We had kids helping and tons people visiting and watching. it was amazing to see how a small idea turned into something so important. At least to us it did.

We wore the clothes of our painting for those few days, proud of what we had done, going through some kind of collective mourning process, sometimes sad or angry, as well as impressed with how people came together, and thankful for it. Such a strange time that was. I can imagine it was like when Kennedy was shot, or the Bombing of Pearl Harbor.

 The final group shot of the Four Kings Flag. A lot of good friends together in this pic, and one day we'll all get together again, and look back on days like 9-11, as the next generation loses touch with the event. When it becomes a point in history like D-Day or Pearl Harbor or The Kennedy assassination, the experience of the time held only by those who witnessed it, the true impact only understood by those who knew the world before that day changed everything.

Only a few days later, the 7-11 had the flag painted over.

We were pissed.
But we knew better than to do something violent, to lash out. There were already reports of hate crimes in the Valley and we weren't going to be part of that.
We were better than that.
So in the middle of the night we went back, just a few of us and put that flag back. We didn't ask. we just did it. Cars drove by and honked, cops drove by as we painted the flag graffiti style. What were they going to do? It was still less than a week after the attacks, who would dare stop us? we had the idea of going around the city and just tagging flags. We knew no one would stop us. we would probably get media attention for it. Alas, that was irrational, and we kept to our 7-11 wall. We actually did this twice, once again on the 1st anniversary of 9-11. 

The Four Kings flag didn't hold up well, and was painted over about four years later.

I wasn't there, in New York or Pennsylvania or the Pentagon. I was here in Phoenix, Az. I didn't know anyone on those planes or in those buildings. I didn't lose my life in the attack, or rescue anyone. I am nothing close to being a Hero or a Victim of 9-11. But as an American, it has affected me in incredible ways, as I imagine that it has affected all of us.  

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