Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11 - Just Another Day?

It is odd to think that seven years have gone by since the horrific day the Twin Towers in NYC were destroyed by evil madmen, taking the lives of thousands of innocent people ~ not to mention those who were killed at the Pentagon and the heroes who died in a field in Pennsylvania, thereby foiling the plot of the hijackers to crash the plane they were on into the White House. Odder still to think that, since that time, very little seems to have changed in the way Americans act and think.
Oddest of all is the fact that, except for the news program I watched while getting ready for work, nothing was said or done, either at my office or anywhere else in Los Angeles as far as I have heard, to commemorate the day, a day that will live in infamy as long as the last American who was living on that day remains alive, perhaps even beyond, though that may be a bit overly optimistic (witness how little interest there is in Pearl Harbor Day, not to mention the anniversary of the November day President Kennedy was assassinated, in my opinion two of the most traumatic and horrific days in recent American history ~ at least until 9/11/01).
As for me, it wasn't until late afternoon, when I couldn't stand the silence anymore and said something about today being the 7-year anniversary since 9/11 that the significance of the day was acknowledged. Anthony, who had been hurrying out to meet his sister for dinner, turned back and began talking about what he had been doing that morning and how he had found out about the attacks and how it had stunned and horrified him, especially since he'd been up to the top of one of the Towers only a week or so before 9/11, while on a Labor Day weekend vacation.
Nikki popped out of her office across the hall and asked if I knew one of our co-workers from another office who had, the morning of 9/11/01, been working inside the second of the Towers to be hit. Hearing about how this woman, knowing that the first building had been hit, had been all "so what?" about it, until friends and family started calling and begging her to get out right away, was chilling. Even then, she had delayed until a security guard ~ apparently one who was an independent thinker ~ urged her and her companions to leave. Nikki said they had been on their way down the stairs when the second plane hit their building, causing it to shake like an earthquake.
I related that I'd gone with my sister to Ground Zero in February of '02, and how, before we even knew the site was just around the corner, both my sister and I stopped in our tracks and felt a wave of energy pass through us, almost like what I imagine it would be like to run into a force field. We started to walk forward again, crying now, and, turning the corner, came face-to-face with the emptiness that had been The World Trade Center's Twin Towers. Later, trying to analyze what it was I'd felt, I could only believe it had to have been the force of the emotions of those who died there as well as those who had been there that day, watching in disbelief and horror, still lingering there months after the event.
After we'd shared our stories, Anthony left to meet his sister and Nikki went back to her office, but I think we were all relieved to have been able to talk about it, to acknowledge the gravity of the day and the immensity of the loss and also, and perhaps most important, our common humanity. As anyone who has gone through a terrible loss will tell you, it is only through acknowledging the grief that we are able to deal with the pain. I would go further and say that it is only through accepting and cherishing each other as fellow human beings that we will be able to ensure that 9/11 doesn't happen again.
As the sign at Ground Zero said, "We will never forget."

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