Today I was able to attend a 9/11 Memorial while at work.
I’m going to flash-back to a note I wrote on Facebook a few years ago, because it still applies:
Don’t ever assume there will be an opportunity “next time.” The Saturday before the tragedy, we had gone into Manhattan to visit the Childrens’ Museum of Manhattan. Matthew had turned two, and Margaret was approaching her first birthday. Just about every subway station involved carting the loaded down double stroller up a bunch of stairs, and it had been a long day. We talked about going downtown to ride the Staten Island Ferry – something we enjoyed doing on occasion. We loved the view of the WTC and all the downtown buildings. We decided, though, that the day had been too long, and that we would do it “next time.”
Fortunately, John had stayed at work the night before until the wee hours of the morning, so he was sleeping a little late when it happened. I hadn’t checked the messages, but my mother had called and left a message telling us about the first airplane, and urging John to stay home if he wasn’t already at work. She called back when the second plane hit, and I answered the phone. I remember watching in horror as they replayed the clip of the second plane hitting. I was a little shocked that they hadn’t evacuated both buildings when the first plane hit. And I remember being really worried about my pregnant neighbor who worked in the city. (She was okay.)
Being this close to NYC, this was “in our back yard.” Children in our neighborhood lost parents, parents in our neighborhood lost children. There is a street next to our school named for Brian McAleese, one of the fallen heroes. But, while I admire and grieve for the fallen firefighters and emergency workers, I can’t help but think about the people everyone forgets.
I think about the poor immigrant that worked at the restaurant on the top of the tower – the one who worked like a slave to set aside money to send back home to his or her family. When you rescue people for a living, you know your job involves danger. But you don’t expect to be killed when your job involves washing a bunch of dishes.
I think about the lawyers and accountants who went in early because they had to get piles of work done before the end of the fiscal year. Some of them might have even been pulling all-nighters. Each of them is grieved by the people who knew them.
I think about the people who lived near those buildings, who watched in horror and hopelessness as their safe haven disappeared before their eyes, replaced by images of horror that they will remember for the rest of their lives.
I also remember the sense of community, that amazing spirit that went through everyone in New York and around the country, even around the globe. The sense that we were all Americans, even if only in spirit, that we were all standing against the evil that had touched us. There was a sense that we would stand strong, even when crippled with grief.
I remember when the first airplanes began to fly again after the tragedy. There was this nervous excitement to see an airplane in the sky again. There was a sense that while we had lost so much, we would be able to move forward.