Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where Were You?

Where were you when life we knew it as Americans changed forever?  Seems to be the topic of conversation across the country these days ... I for one have been thinking about the events that transpired a decade ago non-stop.  I've been glued to the documentaries showing on all of the networks, from Biography to National Geographic, the main networks to TLC.

I've learned a lot these past few weeks.  I wonder if, at the time it was happening, the media purposely shielded us from a lot of the horror and carnage taking place.  If they purposely did not provide comment or footage or interviews with the first responders and survivors who lived to tell their tales.  I'm kind of glad I didn't know the proverbial gory details until now.  I could barely get my mind around the terror and confusion - let alone the horrific stories that came out of the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, and the desperate phone calls to loved ones from the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania.  I think I needed the time and space to digest the basic details of the events before being able to really comprehend what occurred.

I'm haunted by the stories - the details of what firefighters and rescuers saw and experienced.  The tales of those who made their way out of peril are forever burned in my mind's eye.  The incomprehensible tales from loved ones describing their final goodbyes - and then watching their loved one die before their eyes on television have become a part of me.

I'm not sure why I've been so consumed by learning everything I can... perhaps because I (like most Americans, I gather) have felt so lost - so helpless by the events that I needed to learn more.  To understand every story of bravery and survival, horror and loss that took place on that clear day in September.

I know if it were me - if it was my family that was intimately affected by September 11 - if it was my loved one who was lost - I would want everyone to know their story.  I would want everyone to know how special and loved and wonderful that person was.  I would want the world to know exactly what they went through in their final moments.

So perhaps I'm doing all I can to preserve their memories - in my own small way.  To hear about the husband and father who called his wife moments before his building collapsed just to say 'I love you' one more time.  To know about the son who called his mother - leaving a message on her home phone - to say 'I'm okay.  I'll call you when I'm safe,' only to perish moments later.  To pause and think about the young bride/newlywed - who was from San Francisco but happened to be in New York on business that day - attending a breakfast meeting at the World Trade Center - who left a desperate message for her husband in California - telling him she loved him forever, and to tell her family she loved them too - who lost her life shortly thereafter.  To see the faces of the numerous 10-year old children who never knew their fathers as they were in utero at the time of the tragedy.

I always flounder on this day.  I wonder how to best commemorate the lives of so many who were affected - not only the ones who died - but the ones left behind to pick up the pieces and go on.

It's become a cliche saying - but the truth is...

I remember.

And I'll never forget.

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