On remembering . . .

The second tower of the World Trade Center explodes into flames after being hit by an airplane, New York September 11, 2001 with the Brooklyn Bridge in the foreground. REUTERS/Sara K. Schwittek

Like most people in America today, perhaps around the world, I am remembering all that happened on September 11, 2001. The television is full of memorials, social media is full of videos  and photos honoring those who did all they could, gave all they could give.

I remember I had gone in early to work and was sitting in my office when one of my board members called and asked if I still had the little television in my office. Before I could answer she started telling me about an airplane hitting the first tower and then quickly got off. I turned on the TV in time to see the second tower go, and I was glad I was the only one in the office. My mind started in on all the possibilities that could be next, even as the news casters were making their own projections. I reached for the phone.


“I’m watching it.”

“You okay?”

A pause. Then very quietly. “It reminds me of when Pearl Harbor was bombed. Only worse, because we can see this.” Then I heard her draw in a breath and she took on the Mom role. “I’m fine. How are you?”

“I’m okay. ”

“Well, you have work to do, sweetie, I’m fine.

“Okay. But I am calling you in a little while.”

“I know. Love you.”

And then suddenly bodies were in my office around the television, and then we had to get to work. We were public health. We had protocols and we had procedures. We had to make sure we were ready for whatever else might be coming.

How do you put into words the feeling of the ground beneath your feet being pulled out from under you? How do you reconcile the fact that we believed that we were untouchable with the proof that was right there on the television – not only touchable, but able to be destroyed. People my mother’s age understood that, had experienced something similar. I hurt that they were having to relive that. I hurt that we had been living with arrogant blinders on. I hurt that the only option we had before us looked like war.

And I hated, oh how I hated, to watch those amazing first-responders, the people on the street,  the co-workers who rose above themselves and hurried into pain and death. I hated seeing it, but full of joy that there were people on this earth who thought of others before they thought of themselves.  That meant there was still hope for us.

And yes, oh yes, the prayers were many that day. For strength. For protection. For wisdom. For me, for everyone.

And each year those thoughts, those prayers rise again.

We remember. Oh, yes, we remember.







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