Thursday, September 11, 2003

9/11: Year Two

The day has arrived again. Luckily, I've been so busy with school that I haven't thought about it much. It also helps that I'm several hundred miles away from Manhattan now, and that my office doesn't overlook Ground Zero like it did when I worked at Datek.

I'm remembering not only that day two years ago, but last year as well, listening all morning to the list of the names of the dead. Hours of names, including the people we knew, Neal Dullard and Ingeborg Lariby, and the thousands we didn't know, but could have.

I'm also thinking a lot about a short film Ken Burns did for the Today Show's 50th anniversary. He spoke about it and since I can't find the footage online, I'll excerpt a little here:

"My own only solution was to tape the horrendous footage and do, as a kind of prologue of a couple of minutes to this short piece that ran on their fiftieth anniversary, of rolling back and reversing the footage, the clouds of smoke not moving uptown, but moving back downtown. I built each tower. I sucked each plane out, and left us sort of stunned by this beautiful, early fall day, with Katie Couric saying, "At 8:30"--just eighteen minutes before the horror would begin--"September 11, 2001, just the most beautiful day in New York City."
I remember tears falling from my face as I saw the Towers being rebuilt on film. Nothing but art could undo what was done.

This year will probably be like next year and every year afterwards for me. The events of that beautiful and terrible day in New York City will tint the day, but not consume it. I didn't lose a friend or family member or my own life, so I have that luxury. I also have something else: thanksgiving. I'm glad I didn't go in early that day. Glad I didn't get that job on floor 83 of Tower Two I interviewed for just weeks before. Glad I was not on a plane trip or simply walking by the WTC, like I did every day for a year. And glad I could make it home on September 12 for my daughter's first birthday.

Thanksgiving will come early for me every year from now on. September 11th will be a day I remember how much I have to lose, and how quickly it can be taken away. I will remember the value of friendship, how I fled to Brooklyn and sought shelter at Sylvia Bachmann's house. I will remember the feeling of walking through my front door the next day and seeing my wife and child. I will remember that although there are those whose hatred of us is so strong they would fly planes into buildings, there are the people who knowingly went into those buildings to save people. I will remember that life is precious, and that we do not not know the day or the hour or the way it will all end, so every day should be our September 12th: a day of homecoming, and birthday cakes, and the smiling face of a one-year-old.

Never forget.

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