Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Remembering 9/11

Two gaping square holes mark the footprint where the twin towers once stood.  Water flows beautifully down the walls of those holes into a seemingly bottomless pit.  A new building is rising nearby.  It’s called the Freedom Tower and it will be taller than the World Trade Center was.  On a sunny day, children run and play around their parents, and the sky is as blue and clear as it was on September 11, 2001.  These kids had not yet been born on that day, and they really don’t have a clue what happened here.  And maybe that’s the point of a park-like memorial like this.

Celebrate life by continuing to live it. That’s the philosophy of many a survivor regardless of time and place. 

I can still picture the island of Manhattan from the 93rd floor of one of the towers (I forget which one), as I looked out a window that stretched from the ceiling to my feet.  Funny thing but I still remember noticing that to maximize the view, there was no baseboard at the floor where my feet were.  Just glass.

I was at a meeting in the World Trade Center a few months before the towers came down.  It was the first and only time I’d been in the buildings, and since I didn’t know if I’d return, I took the time to drink in that view and try to commit it to memory.  Subsequently, the events of September 11th of that year ensured that my own personal pictures of the place, of that view saved in my mind, would be locked in for as long as I can now remember. 

On September 11th when I saw events unfold on television, while I couldn’t relate at all to what those people were going through, I could close my eyes and see the City of New York from the 93rd floor.  I could imagine what it would be like to see a jet come directly at this building.

And in doing so, I could try to provide a first attempt at context for something that still seems to make no sense.

The memorial on the site today seems to tell us never to forget – it compels us never to forget – but to move on, to live our lives here where we are free to live our lives.

I’ve read quite a bit about September 11th since 2001.  I’ve watched countless documentaries, news reports and movies. Through it all, a few constants do come to mind.

A small number of people carried out a mission that was conceived by a terrorist organization that could not tolerate the fact that America is so tolerant.  Through all of its warts, the United States of America is built on freedoms and individual liberties that allow many and diverse groups to be who they are, and to live their lives as they wish insofar that they do not infringe on the rights of their fellow citizens.

Those who hijacked jets and killed thousands, targeting America’s iconic locations, simply could not tolerate that. 

Today, the locations that were attacked have been restored.  They are not the same as before, but they are not scarred in ruin.  Today, we remember and we continue to live in freedom.  We celebrate life.  Where the World Trade Center once stood, children play and laugh, oblivious to the tragedy that made the place sacred. 

Perhaps that is the greatest and most powerful response to those who on that day 12 years ago tried to take our pursuit of happiness away from us.  To live, to laugh, to move on, but to never forget.  Never forget.

No comments:

Post a Comment