I have nothing particularly profound or though provoking to add to all of the heartfelt articles, TV specials, news accounts and Facebook posts about the 10th anniversary of September 11th. Nor am I very adept at writing about serious topics, but I would feel remiss in my blogging duties if I let today go by without a mention.
“Never Forget” has become the message associated with 9/11 remembrance. While it’s a powerful phrase that conjures up any number of images from that day, it seems to be a largely superfluous directive – I don’t know anyone who could forget where they were, what they were doing, who they were with or how they felt – and I know a few people who wish they could.
My story of that day 10 years ago is not one for the books. I was not in New York that morning fighting my way through clouds of debris. I wasn’t at the Pentagon amidst the confusion and wreckage. Though at the time I lived 40 miles from Manhattan, I was actually asleep here, in Southern California, when life as an American citizen changed forever. In the hours and days following the devastation, I was grounded 3,000 miles away trying to contact friends and relatives living and working in Manhattan, slowly receiving both wonderful and devastating news, and worrying over the mental and physical safety of B and his fellow volunteer firefighters who headed to Ground Zero to help sift through the rubble. I had an overwhelming desire to get back to Connecticut, for no reason other than it was home. It’s where I was raised, and it’s where my spirit needed to be.
I made it home a few days later on one of the first flights that was permitted to land at JFK. On approach the pilot banked in such a way that we could see the smoke still billowing from the ground and I think every person on the plane realized in that moment that nothing would ever be the same.
Today is not about being sad for me, though. Reflective, yes. Grateful, absolutely. Selfishly, today is also a happy anniversary of sorts. Not only does today mark 10 years since a tragedy that reshaped our nation, but it also marks 10 years since my father was given a second chance (in the form of open heart surgery – the reason I was in CA that week to begin with). In the 10 years since, he’s watched me graduate from law school, walked me down the aisle, been my best friend and a worthy adversary in many a political and ideological debate. I’ve appreciated every day of those 10 years and I hope I get at least another 10 just like them.
Too many lives that were meant to be extraordinary were cut short ten years ago by people with a different agenda. Mostly people I never had the fortune to know and a few I did. A co-worker’s husband. A college friend’s sister. A sweet, smart, thoughtful boy with whom I once shared an innocent and misguided kiss at a high school dance. Today I celebrate all of them, as well as the lives that have been saved, and the ones that have been created since. Life does go on, but take no one for granted – and never forget.