There’s going to be a lot of remembering today, I know. For someone as sentimental as I am, remembering is my pass time, but not this. I don’t like to remember this.
I don’t mind remembering when I first heard about the plane crashing into the tower. I thought it was probably a little Cessna, an inexperienced pilot in a POS plane. I heard the news on the radio on my way to work. I hoped not many were hurt.
But the day went on and the terror continued. We heard about plane #2 and then the Pentagon. I had friends and friends with family who worked at the Pentagon and I could NOT get through. This was all before Facebook and Twitter (I know, hard to image that world, right?) and news didn’t travel as fast. Suffice to say it was terrible. Terrible, terrible, terrible.
I was 31 and single. It was probably one of the worst times in my life for it too. All the travel and experiences and all that I had done up until that point felt moot because I was alone and sad, with family so far away (I lived in Chicago at the time). I had no one to rally with. No one to be comforted by or to comfort in return. 9.11 was an eye opener in that regard.
Three months after 9.11 I went to New York and to Ground Zero. It was still an enormous mess, all the remembrances and “Have You Seen?” bulletins were still posted all over the area. Roads were still blocked. Subway stops inoperable. It was literally a war zone.
I stood in line with a friend and a co-worker to go stand on the platform – then, a hastily built wood thing where you stood and looked at an enormous hole filled with cranes and bulldozers.
Nearby Ground Zero is St. Paul’s Episcopal Chapel, which was miraculously unharmed in the 9.11 event. It was home base for many of the firefighters and policemen working Ground Zero. We had a chance to thank several dust covered and clearly exhausted men on their way in for a break.
The street in front of the chapel was busy, loud – just like any New York sidewalk. However, when you started walking down to the platform, it got eerily quiet. As we were waiting in line, I kept hearing this small, tinkling sound like a wind chime. I leaned over to Barb and asked her if she heard it too. She did, yet we couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. The sound, so very light and airy, almost whimsical, seemed incredibly out of place – like the ringing of a cell phone at a funeral.
I finally found the source of the sound and it was coming from a tree in the small graveyard of St. Paul’s chapel. It was a wind chime – of sorts. It was a set of office blinds. You know the thin aluminum ones they put in office buildings? Clearly, the blinds had been blown out of some window and were a dust-covered gray, tangled ball, high at the top of this tree. When the wind would blow, the ball would gently sway up and out and then back down on itself creating the small, high sound.
That day it was those window blinds that broke me down. Whose window did those blinds come from? What kind of force was it that crumbled and curled them and then hurled them a block away into this tree?
Other days it was the thought that there are people out there in this world who hate our country so much that they’d kill thousands of completely innocent people to make a point. I’m still not sure what that point is.
Most days it was the barrage of images. The people jumping from the towers. The dead being pulled from the rubble. The families stricken with grief.
What I also remember are the churches FILLED with people, most who hadn’t seen the inside of a church in a long time, myself included. I remember the sense of community too. We were all very much aware of our neighbors, the person next to us in traffic, the stranger on the street. What has happened to that feeling, that bond of country and community? We need it back, in a big, bad way.
We need to come together and stop pointing fingers and laying blame. The GOP candidates are already baring teeth and sharpening claws, fighting over unemployment percentages and who spent more money where.
Enough already. I know that it is impossible to recreate the community spirit the came after 9.11. Too much has happened. Too much is at stake right now. But in honor of 9.11 I know that I will do my best to remember and honor the people who were killed in this terrible tragedy. I will forgive trespasses, as the prayer goes.