9/11 – A Remembrance

9 Sep

When 9/11 is broached in conversation a constant question asked is what you remember from the day. As human beings, we are linked by our rich memories and bonded by the emotions that can forever be emitted by these mental images. The stories are telling because most of them luckily don’t involve the initial direct contact that some were unfortunate enough to observe. No, most stories involve work or school, where first notice of the traumatic events was shared by a co-worker, peer, loved one, or, in some cases, random individuals whom you will always remember because they shared with you an item of news that still gives you a knot in your  stomach today.

When the first and second plane penetrated the leviathan New York City towers, I was sitting in technology class, a 12-year-old in seventh grade. A student broke the news to the class. We were then transferred to another technology class across the hall where we sat and discussed the interruption to the normal Tuesday school day. I don’t believe our superiors knew how to handle the situation. Throughout the day, more and more classes were like this until the day ended and we were bussed home. My parents and I then sat in front of the television in their room and watched the planes hit the trade centers over and over and over again, like a movie scene on terrible repeat. And, to be honest, that is all I remember.

It seems rather peculiar that such a fateful day did not store more images in my mind. I was 12, immature and fallow. I was certainly not mature enough to fully understand the gravity of the situation. I knew that it was terrible and I felt awful, but my pre-pubescent mind did not emotionally grasp the day’s events. I was too young then. I am not, now.

As I voraciously read the remarkable 10-year-anniversary coverage completed by the New York Times, New Yorker, Newsday, among several other New York media outlets, I put myself in the mind of a 21-year-old man, just out of college, commuting to his first job at the World Trade Center, the same monstrous building that his grandparents took him to when he was a little boy – the buildings he attempted to cover with his thumb at long distances and touched with the same thumb when he was outside them looking up, up, up trying unsuccessfully to see the top. I think of a cloudless, almost relaxed Tuesday morning, where a sharp blue sky and bright sun reflected off of glass buildings and the irrepressible chatter of early-morning New Yorkers. That 21-year-old gets to work early, striped blue button down, black slacks, combed light brown hair that would darken as the sunny summer passed, a black briefcase – his entire wardrobe picked out with the help of his proud parents. He takes the elevator up and up and up, until he can see the top of the building. He sits at his desk, exchanges pleasantries with his co-workers who are already making their plans for the weekend, turns on his computer and…

We are ten years removed from 9/11 and I have become my created character, a bright-eyed 21-year-old working at his first job in the city. My quotidian routine has formed and the circadian rhythm of weekdays has been bolstered by repetition. But, you see, that 21-year-old in September of 2001 did not come home that Tuesday and he will never come home as a 31-year-old with kids of his own, and I can’t shake the fact that on Sept. 11, 2001, a date that will forever be implanted in the structure of New York City like an ineffaceable tattoo, men and women got up, went on the train, settled in at work, and died. I can’t conceive it, I can’t comprehend it, and I don’t think any one will ever be able to.

As I was reading through a variety of stories about the day, I came across a quotation from an individual who had escaped the buildings prior to their collapse. As he was evacuating the buildings, he noticed a tall, slender man, in black dress shoes plummeting to the ground outside of the window. He shook his head and the first thought to pop in his head was, ‘the firefighters have already set up nets on the bottom.’ And then he shook the thought and realized that no one could survive a fall of that many stories at the velocity they were traveling. But the irrational thought was the first to cross his mind, because when you are presented with an obscene and absurd reality, it is only human to think that everything is going to be okay. The images of those falling still seem unreal today. I have trouble even typing these words. And those who remained trapped in conference rooms or offices who called loved ones for the last time to assure them that they were trying to get out. And the emergency personnel who sacrificed their lives and climbed the burning building to try to rescue everyone they could. That’s who we should remember today. Because, when many think of 9/11 they think of the after effects. They think of how improved radio technology could have helped firefighters escape and how the events sparked two ongoing costly wars. Conspiracy theories are propagated because of the human necessity to question everything, especially something so unexplainable. But at least on Sunday, let’s please all remember those who do not have the luxury to ponder such things because they died in the towers, the pentagon, or the planes.

Let’s remember them, and let’s remember the sincere brotherhood and kindness that temporarily washed over the country. Let’s remember the refreshing quiet that let everyone mourn the events and the timely patriotism that, at least for a few days, was not vitiated. Try to remember such human emotions and, maybe, attempt to implement these strong feelings again. We are capable. We are human. We have flaws, but, at such a volatile time in our country, it is not appropriate to spew vitriol and vituperate. It’s time to work together to solve the troubles facing our nation and I think that this anniversary provides a great starting point.

Now, while this was not much of a music post, I still want to provide a peaceful song for Sunday.

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One Response to “9/11 – A Remembrance”

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  1. A Different World « It Just Dawned On Me - September 11, 2011

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