Ten Years On
I think I'm going to skip television today. A decade has now passed since September 11, 2001 and it's not enough time for the rawness of the emotions we all felt on that day to have developed adequate scar tissue to shield most of us from the remembered horror of that awful time. There will be memorials in New York, Washington, Pennsylvania, and all over; memorials for the thousands who died on that terrible morning, tributes to an America that passed away with them.
We all remember what we were doing and where we were on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. Watching the World Trade Center towers fall is a vision that will forever be burned into my memory. I recall so vividly watching as people jumped from the windows of the upper floors of those buildings. Then there were the people on the ground when the towers came down. I can still see this one man, short and chubby, covered with dust, saying: "I can still run! I'm sixty-nine but I can still run!" The masses of humanity that were sent running for their lives out of lower Manhattan on foot when the debris and billowing dirt went sailing through the air, I can see it all in my mind's eye so very clearly and it doesn't seem possible that it all happened ten years ago.
Time passes quickly and while it does have a healing effect what it cannot do is take away the feelings that we experienced during moments in the past. Our emotions always have a way of taking us back to events that made an impact on our lives. We don't ever forget how someone or something made us feel. The security that most Americans had enjoyed up until September 11, 2001 was cruelly ripped away from us that day. Not since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor had we been made to feel so violated, so vulnerable, so ultimately human. The terrorists who carried out those atrocities really completed their tasks in more ways than one.
I am undecided as to how I now feel about that terrible day. There is a part of me that will forever be reliving the tremors of horror that coursed through me as I watched it all unfold. There is another part of me that still demands justice for the thousands who died and for the life we all had before that morning. There is also the feeling of numbness that most of us had to develop so as not to let what happened drive us to distraction during the media blitz that followed. And then there is the pain I cannot forget while watching what was happening and knowing that no one could change it. As I watched all those people who jumped from the upper floors of the World Trade Center my heart broke and the tears that spilled down my cheeks for them are still real, still aching in my eyes, and they will always be so.
A lot has happened in the decade since September 11, 2001. The war on terror rages on. Iraq is free of Saddam Hussein. Osama Bin Laden was hunted down and killed. Al Qaeda and the Taliban have been seriously crippled. But they're still there. And we all know that their hate is boiling. We know that sooner or later they're going to do something, anything to let the world know that they haven't been completely squashed. It is this dread that permeates most of our thoughts when we think of the last ten years and how the events between then and now have changed us forever. Dread can be a terrible thing in itself, especially when it is rooted in the reality we all share.
So yes, I think I'll skip television today. My memories of September 11, 2001 are very fresh in my mind and while I will always honor those who perished during those awful attacks I don't think I want to revisit that morning by watching it happen all over again through reruns. We have been doing that for the last ten years too. As if any of us need news footage to go back to that place in time anyway. No, I think I'll spend some time with my family today. I want to be near them. I think we all should be with those we love on a day like this.
Because the one lesson everyone indisputably learned on September 11, 2001 is that there is always the very real chance that our lives can be irreversibly changed in just a few short minutes.
My love to all...