What does it mean to remember, to never forget? Past the bumper stickers and the rolling banner on CNN, beyond the theme music. It’s probably different for everyone and I wonder if there are those, still overcome with grief, that wish they could forget.
I didn’t lose anyone on 9/11. I know a few distant acquaintances that did, but for the most part September 11th registers as a massive tragedy for my country. I’m often intimidated by big and I’m not a fan of mass. I tend to relate on an individual level. I like to break things down into little pieces.
Each year I do the same thing. I suppose it’s my way of remembering. I go to the memorial site and I look at all the faces, every last one. I then read some of the bios that I didn’t read the year before. I learn something new each year about the people that lost their lives and I usually cry at some point.
On the first anniversary, I was drawn to the detail of the passengers on the flights. A few years ago, I spent time learning about the people at The Pentagon. Last year I was swept up in the stories of all the fire fighters and police officers. But most years, I don’t know why, most years I can’t get the people in The Towers out of my mind.
It always strikes me that they were just going to work. They weren’t soldiers or even politicians. They didn’t think they were in harm’s way. I picture offices in the early morning, the smell of doughnuts or coffee. I can relate to the rumbling of people shaking off the personal and beginning the business of their job. Lunches in communal refrigerators, emails being answered and maybe even a little office gossip. I see jackets on chairs, pictures of loved ones or vacations and then I allow myself to imagine the horror, pain and panic of what happened to them.
I’m not sure if my ritual is remembering, or never forgetting. It’s what I do, I’ll do it again at some point today. September 11th weighs heavy and it’s never about the grand gesture, the eagle, the monument or the memorial for me. It’s the individual office, the single chair, the phone call and the silence. I am so sorry for each and every one of them and the families left behind.
It was an unimaginable day and I guess all we can do is try, in our own way, to define and practice rememberance.
My thoughts from the laundry room. Peaceful Rest.