DID YOU SEE ME?

DID YOU SEE ME?

From Chicken Soup for the Soul of America

Did You See Me?

God is known by many different names and many different traditions, but identified by one consistant feeling: love, love for humanity, particularly love for our children. Love does eventually conquer hate, but it needs our help.

Rudolph Giuliani

Did you see me?

I joined with hundreds of my fellow Canadians today, in the shadow of the Detroit skyline, to pay my respects to my American brothers and sisters. I watched as utility workers, stationed in bucket trucks, rose high above the crowd to fly the Stars and Stripes and the Maple Leaf. I shivered as the wind picked up, at just the right moment, and the flags snapped to attention, their colors bright.

Did you see me?

I was the Canadian veteran in full-dress uniform, my military medals shining brightly, whose voice quivered as we sang “O Canada.” I thought of the battles we fought together sixty years ago, side by side, united in our common cause. I remembered my comrades, American and Canadian, lost in war, far across the ocean.

Did you see me?

I was the young woman wearing a hejab and bourka, who held my child’s hand. I feared that the intolerance I left behind in my homeland would reappear here, in my chosen country. I wondered if my neighbors would persecute me because of my color and creed. I prayed that my children would not know the hatred my ancestors had known.

Did you see me?

I was the student, only in sixth grade, who marveled that the crowd knew the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner” as well as they knew their own national anthem. I looked across the water, at the Renaissance Center shining brightly, and thought of the U.S. Girl Scouts I had met once. I wondered if they were more afraid than I, or if all children, everywhere, now felt vulnerable. I watched as a dozen bunches of red, white and blue balloons were sent up into the air, floating on the breeze, perhaps later to bring comfort to children in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois.

Did you see me?

I was the businessman, face somber in reflection. I wondered if the thin blue line of the river that divides our countries would now become a barrier. I watched the traffic waiting to cross the border, and I wondered if I would ever go to work again without U.S. Customs’ officers searching every inch of my car. I wondered if people I had worked with had lost loved ones, and I mourned their loss as though it were my own.

Did you see me?

I was the young woman, tears in her eyes, who looked skyward during a moment of prayer. A solitary plane flew high overhead, the first commercial flight I’d seen in three days. I thought of the Americans I knew, women just like me. Until Tuesday, we’d concerned ourselves with matters that now seemed mundane. Now we steeled ourselves to smile as we sent our children off to school, calling them back for one more hug, one more look at their innocent faces.

Did you see me?

I was the rabbi who assured the crowd that God had not forgotten us. I said that God was in the heroes, in the people who united in rescue efforts, in the thousands who lined up to give blood around the world, in the hundreds of firefighters who went into the World Trade Center Towers while thousands of people fled. I was the Muslim leader who prayed to Allah, to guide us to the straight way, and to make us understand the beauty of our differences. I reminded all that we are human and asked that Allah unite us in humanity. I was the Baptist preacher who suggested that we must behave like the children of God, as one people.

Did you see me?

My heart swelled with pride as my friends and neighbors leaned over the rail and dropped flowers of red, white and blue into the water. I watched as a sea of blossoms, the symbols of hope, peace and forgiveness, floated past. I listened to our mayor repeat the words that John F. Kennedy spoke about our countries, a decade before I was born: “Geography made us neighbors, history has made us friends. Economics has made us partners, and necessity has made us allies.”

I thought of you, my neighbors, my friends, my partners and my allies, and I waved my flag as we sang together, “God Bless America.” I prayed that together we would find a way to reclaim hope and healing, and unite together in this time of uncertainty. And with hundreds of my fellow citizens, I offered a wave of support for you and yours.

Did you see me?

Shelley Divnich Haggert

More stories from our partners