I’ve written a good bit about my personal interaction with the events of September 11, 2001 since that horrible day.
A friend I had played golf with just two months earlier who died in the south tower of the World Trade Center. The video I took of the Pentagon as it burned just three miles away from my house. The three hour journey waiting for my turn on the Ground Zero observation decks on the day they opened in December, 2001. The great honor I had in participating in a moment of silence with the President and the First Lady at the White House when I worked there as a peon staffer on the first anniversary of the attacks. My visit to St. Paul’s chapel in lower Manhattan.
These were all fairly small touches to the most historic, and horrific, event I have experienced in a generation of living. But they were all my own and as such, they served as my way to make sense of the day.
Today, five years later, I am still struggling to do that. When I heard that media outlets like CNN and MSNBC would be running real-time footage of the news from September 11, 2001, I thought to myself, “Why would anyone want to watch that again?” But as I arrived at my office this morning and tuned in, I found myself unable to turn away. Strange considering I already knew the plot and the ending of this awful story.
The coverage, even 1800+ days later, stirred the same emotions – shock, sadness, and anger. And do you know what, that’s a good thing. We should never allow time to mute the memory of events that change our history and lives like those of September 11.
Experiencing those lurid images, the chaotic uncertainty, and the incomprehensible actions of truly evil men, something else happened. I started remembering things about that day I had forgotten.
Things like a reporter friend of my aunt calling me from San Francisco trying to get a firsthand account of what things were like in Washington. Or turning my convertible down a side street and literally ducking down because I heard planes roaring overhead and thought one would certainly crash near me (they turned out to be air force fighter jets). Or sitting at home glued to my television, not knowing what to do.
It’s funny, but writing this column has been difficult and after rereading it, I know you will agree that the difficulty took its toll. This tome is unfocused, rambling, streaming of all consciousness, and doesn’t make a lot of sense. But for this mediocre writer, that’s all right because I think it’s a good reenactment of my state of mind on that day five years ago.
The rush of emotions I experienced today reminded me that like everyone, I was a a particpant in that day, not just an observer. And as such, I have a duty to remember, to learn, and to never forget. Not just about that day, but also about how lucky I am.
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