Tag Archives: 11th

NYC5 – That day……

When my hubby asked me if I wanted to go to NYC for our anniversary, “yes, please,” was all I could muster before I pushed my sweet children out of the way and rushed off to pack my bag. I had been to NYC but it’d been so many years that I didn’t remember anything much about the place.

We decided to drive because we could spend more quality time together I absolutely hate flying. One of the many reasons I don’t like to fly is because about 11 1/2 years ago planes fell out of the sky.

We all remember our own details of that day. I was pregnant with my youngest. When I heard the news, I filled my car with gas, got money out of the bank, and rushed to the store to buy Krispy Kreme donuts and milk. Apparently my prenatal self thought donuts could ward of evil. It didn’t work. Evil still exists. Luckily, donuts do too.

Before we set one foot in the direction of NYC, I had my post about the 9/11 memorial half-written. I was mad and shaking my finger at the computer screen, “How could they do that? Why would they do that?” I planned to spew anger at seeing the devastation first hand, and, dear readers, I was ready to walk you down my own spiral staircase of loathing to rant against those who could devise and then carry out such a plan.

My neighbor tried to settle me down by telling me how calming the memorial was. She promised, “it’s really peaceful. You might be surprised.”

But not I. The pen is mightier than the plane and I was fully prepared.

Until we got there.

Our first view of the site was from a helicopter.

I was in awe. The holes in the space were gaping, impossible to miss. But something strange happened. I wasn’t furious. I didn’t wave my fist in the air. I just stared. It was horrific and serene.

The next morning we went for our tour at the memorial. It turns out you need tickets/visitor passes – they are free – but you have to register for them in advance. You can do that here.

We signed up for the 10am slot and lined up at 9:30am. As we were waiting, we heard the people around us telling their stories. It seemed like everyone knew someone who didn’t make it out. Just a few knew of someone who did.

One woman solemnly said, “It is only right that they memorialize those who lost their lives. I am glad they didn’t rebuild office space on the site.”

The man she was with quietly answered, “Please remember, they did not simply lose their lives, they were murdered.” His friend, a firefighter, died that day. Agony.

Those words choked my heart. I had to swallow to jump start it. I started talking to my husband because I just couldn’t take any more stories.

Finally, we presented our tickets and went through security and somehow were second in line for the grand gate opening.

When the gates opened, the first thing I saw was these men.

These men who stand watch over a monument dedicated in part to those uniformed men and women who rushed into buildings that were falling down for no other reason than to save lives. Other people’s lives. Agony.

And then we saw this.

Tranquility. Beauty. Rebuilding.

(If you can get there early, do. We only got to see this view because we got there early. Within minutes, seconds really, hundreds of people were milling about and it felt very different. More urgent.)

I walked around the entire park. The only way I knew to honor the memory of those who died on September 11th was to try to read every name. It quickly got too crowded in the park for me to read all the names, but I did try.

Some of the names looked familiar to me because I love people who share those names. It didn’t, it won’t make any sense that people could hate other people so desperately. People they have never met. That anyone would give up his own life to destroy the life of another. It didn’t, it won’t make sense who was chosen. I wondered, “why them?”

“Why did that Ellen die and not me.” I selfishly thanked God but wondered why again and again as I connected with name after name.

And then I saw this.

And her unborn child.”

Debilitating agony.

Throughout the morning, I read that phrase six more times. There may have been more but parts of the wall were crowded and it was hard to see around the people.

Overwhelming sadness gripped me. No anger. Just devastating sadness because of such unnecessary loss. The promise of so much obliterated by unearned hatred. It made it hard for me to hate back. I was just so very, very sad.

I will never find the exact poetic words to tell you how beautiful this memorial place is. I just love that they built waterfalls flowing from near ground level into the holes the collapsed buildings created. The designers captured the devastation and America’s defiance of that ridiculous hate magically. The running water is calming. The sky is wide open. It feels like God is watching us shine.

Remembering………….

America was rocked to its core on September 11th.

I posted a question on Facebook today asking people what they were doing when they heard the news. You could hear the heaviness in the answers. A lot of my friends were pregnant and/or parents of young children. Myself included. You feel the weight of parenthood more than you could ever imagine when you think of protecting a child in a world where hate is more than just mean-spirited and ugly – a world where hate is deadly.

America rejoined the ranks of so many countries who have lost their citizens too soon. Every country has a story – every citizen remembers when hate took over where patience and acceptance should reside.

Today there was a September 11th Commemoration Service at the American Embassy. I went. I am so glad I did. You probably know by now that I am big on counting blessings. Consider them all counted today. Every single one.

Timothy Roemer, the American Ambassador, hosted the event and spoke about his time on the Congressional 9/11 Committee investigating what happened. Today, he focused on the flight that went down in Pennsylvania – about the heroes who refused to simply be victims. Did you know that the people on that flight took a vote before taking on the terrorists? Democracy in action.  Amazing. Even in the face of such hatred, they took the time to make everyone’s opinion count.

He talked about the parents who called the plane and had barely a minute to share the news with their loved ones. To hear their voices – probably very shaken. To tell them what was happening and to say goodbye. I cannot imagine.

Mr. Roemer emphasized the importance of not forgetting. Of remembering forever. He also emphasized equally the importance of finding the strength to be resilient. When we are too scared to care about one another, whether it be across driveways or across oceans, terrorism wins.

He talked about the families who put their anger aside to make a difference in the fight against terrorism. Who gave willingly of their time and energy and talents to make America a safer place. The families worked with Congressional leaders to change the way America works and protects itself.

To have such grace – I am not sure I could. And I hope and pray that no one ever has to dig that deep to forgive and move on again.