As I write this, I wonder how you will remember, commemorate, observe September 11, 2019. If you followed broadcast media, you may have stopped what you were doing for a moment of silence. You may …
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As I write this, I wonder how you will remember, commemorate, observe September 11, 2019.
If you followed broadcast media, you may have stopped what you were doing for a moment of silence. You may have been sobered by the images of that day 18 years ago. Your heart may have ached not only for those who perished, but also for their families, for the survivors and their families, for the first responders and their families.
Perhaps you experienced some, or all, of these – as I would – and then went on with your own lives, as I would … because, of course, we must. As the years have passed, I to believe that we continue to honor the victims, the survivors, the first responders, and the families when we acknowledge their sacrifices and still confidently live our lives.
I’m sure most of us remember exactly where we were when we first received the news. I was driving to work when I heard that a small plane had careened into the Twin Towers, apparently by accident.
By the time I reached my office, however, it was clear that the unbelievable, the unthinkable, the impossible had happened: two airliners had been crashed – apparently on purpose – into the World Trade Center. Chaos, destruction and death ensued.
I couldn’t get inside my office fast enough. I needed to be with other people. I needed to mourn, to grieve in solidarity.
The leadership of the organization where I worked understood this. Everyone was allowed, encouraged even, to cluster, in our confusion and shock, around a television in the cafeteria. Pizza was delivered, for the entire office. And, perhaps most importantly, any of us who wanted to go home – to families, to loved ones, to mourn on our own – were urged to do so.
I stayed at the office. My own support system was there, my work – even with the little attention I gave it – was a comfort. When I did go home, I ran to my neighbor’s house and pounded on the door, unwilling to be alone with the unfolding events.
The following year, on the first anniversary of September 11, 2001, I happened to be in Paris, where we as Americans were treated tenderly and with respect. France was consumed with our tragedy and shared in our collective sorrow. The newsstands blared photos of the carnage, and, in solemn contrast, a small American flag was pinned to the wall behind the banks of candles in Notre Dame Cathedral.
Although September 11 of 2019 will be, because of the passing of the years, necessarily destined to be different, I will still to be with other people. By the time you read this, my sister will have accompanied me to an early morning doctor’s appointment. Multiple conference calls throughout the day will connect me with people around the country. September 12 is a dear friend’s birthday, and I’ll be starting the celebration early.
I will pause throughout the day to observe, to remember, to commemorate, to honor – without yielding to the fear that the terrorists had schemed so viciously to instill. My belief that those who sacrificed so much would want the rest of us to live this way is a salve for my soul. We share our collective sorrow, and then go on confidently … because we must.
Andrea Doray is a writer who treasures her photo of that American flag among the candles and is doubly saddened by the loss of so much of Notre Dame Cathedral. Contact Andrea at email@example.com.
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