"No matter how terrified you may be, own your fear and take that leap anyway because whether you land on your feet or on your butt, the journey is well worth it."
-- Laurie Laliberte
"If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough."
-- Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."
-- Anais Nin

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Was at Work

We tell the same stories every year. The firefighters who responded first and felt the towers crash around them, trapping some, killing many. The police officers covered in dust as they braved thick clouds in an effort to keep civilians safe. The hundreds, thousands, who walked home because public transportation had shut down. The newscasters openly weeping on-air unable to control their emotions. 
We recall where we were when we first heard the news. How we felt: our shock, our horror, our disbelief, our anger. 
We remember watching planes hit over and over for days unsure how to proceed, when to proceed, whether to proceed with business as usual. 
We still grieve, but we persevere. We still hurt, but we still heal. We still fight because we are Americans and that's what we do. We say, "Let's roll" and we act. We don't lay down and surrender. 
We pray for the many souls lost that day in New York, in D.C., in Pennsylvania. And we thank God, or Allah, or Buddha, or Fate for sparing those who lived. 
No matter what we do or where we go from here, we must never forget.
Kittaning, PA photo courtesy of Valerie Lapcevich
Family folklore suggests that my name came into being during the French revolution. My ancestors were part of the resistance. (That explains a LOT if you're familiar with my personality.) They were named LaLiberte for their contribution. 
I have borne the moniker "Laliberte" like a cross my entire life. Nobody spells it right. Nobody says it correctly. They all want to say Liberty, or LAL-iberty, or Libertay; it's LA-liberty. They want to spell it Liberty, or Laliberti (to which I used to reply, "I'm French, not Italian"). 
In my twenties, I worked with a group of men from the Middle East who all spoke beautiful fluent French tinged with the most elegant accent that belied their North African descent. They taught me to love my name. First, because they spoke it so exquisitely. Second, because they so appreciated it's meaning:  Freedom. They truly understood what we take for granted. 
It wasn't until ten years ago today that I fully comprehended their reaction to my name. Now, I embrace it. Now, when someone misspells or mispronounces my surname, I politely correct them with a smile rather than a scowl. Now, I get it. 
Here's to freedom.

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