Carol A. Hand
Word by word, the story I’m writing about the past is emerging. I’m sharing an excerpt written on November 7, 2015 in honor of Veteran’s Day. As a nation, tragic events a little more than fourteen years ago forced the nation and world to make a decision that would profoundly affect future generations. A nation and world in shock and mourning faced momentous and difficult choices. Would thoughtful reasoning or quick revenge prevail? That question had not yet been answered at this point in my story…
Chapter 5 – Tuesday, September 11, 2001
When I awoke it was still dark. The stories I had heard yesterday and last week were still swirling in my mind. It was too soon to begin making sense of it all. That would take time. But I wished I could take time today to just think and organize my notes. I had typed up the story Raymond had shared even though it was late when I got home, but there were so many other pressures I needed to address.
I decided to take a little time to deal with the most pressing issues for my new job. It was, after all, what was both making my research possible and constraining me by imposing what seemed like an impossible timeline. It really is strange how life works out some time.
A year ago, I had returned to the university where I had begun my doctoral studies. Ten years ago I had been forced to withdraw in order to support my daughter in college and my partner who had lost his job.
Since then, I had mostly worked as an instructor at the university I attended and as a grant writer, program developer, and an evaluator for tribal programs and health education initiatives. I returned to the university as a Ph. D. student when I finally had a topic that I wanted to study passionately enough to sustain me through yet more classes and a year of research and writing – Indian child welfare. I had written two of the required preliminary exams and was working on a third when I got a surprise call from the chair of a social work department at another university.
“Hi Agnes. I’m Dr. Tim Smith, at Prairie University. I’m calling to offer you a job. I’ve heard about you from friends at your university. It’s my alma mater, too. I’m trying to build a diverse faculty here and think you’d be a perfect addition.”
“I really appreciate your kind offer, Dr. Smith,” I replied. “But I’m not looking for a job right now. I’m still completing my preliminary exams and my research proposal.”
“I have a proposition for you,” he responded, undaunted. “I’m willing to create a special position for you to support you while you finish your work. I want you to come for a visit so you can check us out. If you’re interested in the offer, we can talk about the details when you’re here.”
To make a long story short, I did visit and accept the position. It began at the end of August, 2001. My salary would support the costs of my research, a decision I made to protect identities. Dr. Smith had offered to reimburse me, but it would mean revealing the names of places and people. That would break my promise of anonymity for those who shared their lives and stories. In exchange for drawing a salary for the next two years to do research and writing during the fall of 2001 and 2002, I would need to teach a double course load in the spring. It also meant I had to meet deadlines for finishing my work if I wanted to join as a tenure track faculty member in 2003.
This morning, tired as I was with so many stories to think about, I felt I needed to check in with the university. I arose early and fired-up the gasoline-powered generator so I would have electricity to shower, pack, and get ready to hit the road. I decided to check my university email before I set out for the tribal community. The events I learned about in university messages would have a chilling affect not only on the Ojibwe community I was studying, but also on the world. I recorded my thoughts in my research journal…
Image: World Peace
I wish we had made different decisions in the aftermath of that fateful day. For the sake of those who will be on the front lines in the future, and the innocent families and children in harm’s way, I hope we take time to reconsider the wisdom of following the path of yet more war. It’s how we can best honor those who fought to keep their families safe. Working toward peace and reconciliation offers the wisest choice.
[Please note: The names of people have all been changed in the preceding account to protect identity. The names of organizations have been altered as well.]
Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.