Today, nine eleven slipped into the forgotten space of a busy world where so many other things insist on being necessary. Every year, as I type the date, the words, I’m reminded instantly. Every day I type the date because that is how I begin. It is part of the fabric of my beginning the day. It’s stitched into me like waking and wandering to the bathroom, involuntary like breathing. Today I typed the date and then, due to another anomaly with the date – not because of the date, I typed it again. Its 9/11/19 but I made a typo and thought it was the 10th of September and so glossed over the actual date, didn’t realize it until hours later when I was retracing my steps. I saw the typo and fixed it, and when I fixed it, that is when it hit me.
How could anything be so insistent and necessary as to eclipse this day and the remembrance that it deserves. The day does not demand being remembered. It doesn’t ask for it.. no day would ever ask for a tragedy such as that so that it can have some claim to fame, some grief forever scarred on it with endless books and poems and stories and pictures and memorials.
I was, like most, moved beyond words by the tragedy of the twin towers falling, and the plane crash that followed. I groped for words so I could, individually, come to terms with what had happened. I strung some together and then a year later, I did it again. Every year I do this. I pay my respects to every single human being whose life was altered by the events of that day, and the aftermath.
It was not until this year, when I visited New York City, that I got a more complete picture of what actually happened. The picture was made more whole because at the memorial site and museum they also tell the story of all the things that happened after. A day after, a week after, a month after, months and years leading up to the present day. The collapse of all the buildings on the World Trade Center campus took a very long time to excavate and hundreds of volunteers worked tirelessly on the effort for a long time. Many got sick. Many are still sick.
In the basement of the museum they have a few of the concrete columns that were originally support structures for the towers. These had to be brought down, they have been written on, they were turned into a memorial and now they will be preserved forever, for future generations to get a glimpse of a very human aspect of the event. Amidst all the concrete and steel and rebar, the individual notes and messages have been preserved.
There is a set of stairs that were kept, mostly in tact, because they led so many people to safety. The people that used these stairs and found their way to safety lived. There are giant support beams on display, a visual testimony of the forces involved on impact and collapse.
There’s a mangled fire truck, half of it crushed under the weight of something. None of the men who rode in on that fire truck survived. There was a recording of a call back to the station, the steady voice of a man reporting on what was happening inside the building, what floor he was on. He was keeping his cool. Before he hung up he thanked the person on the other end of the line. He probably knew he was going to die in that building. Yet he kept climbing. That should never be forgotten.
It should never be glossed over because we are too busy doing all the things that we feel we must. We should recognize that we can go about our business of the day today and tomorrow and the next day because we are fortunate to be alive. I cant really do anything about what happened but Continue to think and feel and try to find the words.
It has been 18 years. The connection for me will always be that the anniversary of this day preceded my daughters birth by 6 months. She will be 18 next March. At the time I Was pregnant and terrified of bringing a child into a world with people who were capable of that kind of hatred and destruction. To be honest, I’m still terrified. My children went through the memorial with me. They have talked about it in school but I felt it was important that they, too, got more of a complete picture. It is important.
It remains important and should not be overlooked or minimized. When I type the date I want it to have all the immediate necessity that a call into 911 would have, and even if it cant stay in the foreground for long – a minute, an hour, a day. I want to try and show honor and gratitude. Not for the day, but for all the people, my fellow human beings, who lost their lives that day and so many more whose lives were permanently damaged. My hope is that the living continue to hold on to life and make the most of the time they have left….
Keep Climbing.. because you can,