9/11 Eight Years Later – Never Forget
I certainly haven’t forgotten. In fact, I remember that day as if it were yesterday. It was my junior year of high school and the Arch Diocese of NY was in the midst of bitter negotiations with the teacher’s unions that represented the non-clergy faculty of my school and other catholic schools in New York. Because the negotiations weren’t going well, all the teachers went on strike and walked out. With nobody there to teach the students, my school and many others had no choice but to send its kids home. The entire student body was sitting in the auditorium waiting to be dismissed when our principal rushed into the auditorium and went directly to the front so as to have all of our attention. I will never forget what he said:
“Gentleman,” Monsignor Graham said, “on my way to the auditorium to send you home, I happened hear some breaking news on the radio this morning. It appears that a plane has crashed into one of the Twin Towers. My initial reaction was that it was a terribly unfortunate accident, but in the past minute or two, it’s also been reported that a second plane has crashed into the World Trade Center Buildings.”
The entire auditorium, every student and remaining clergy-faculty member, was stunned.
We were told to call our loved ones and to go straight home, per the orders of the NYPD at the time. My mom worked at a school in the Bronx and I had no other immediate family working in that part of New York, so I was ok in that regard. I had many friends, though, who had relatives that worked in Manhattan, so they all rushed home to confirm their safety.
I went to my friend’s house that day and there we watched the news ALL day. We watched the buildings collapse. We watched people crying and listened to stunned commentary. We watched people covered in debris running for their lives. And we watched the unfolding of our government’s response, a response we’re still in the midst of eight years later.
For me, it was the defining moment in my life that made me aware of the world I was living in. Prior to that, I was indifferent to current events, more interested in the history found in a textbook than the history playing out in my everyday life. September, 11, 2001 changed that forever. I became an astute follower of current events, politics, and the policies and positions our government takes.
When people say “never forget”, it’s not the actual terrorist act I believe most of them to be referring to. I think it’s the moments that followed. The days, weeks, months, and years when this country was completely united and banded together. That’s the message I got from President Obama’s remarks today at the Pentagon:
We remember with reverence the lives we lost. We read their names. We press their photos to our hearts. And on this day that marks their death, we recall the beauty and meaning of their lives; men and women and children of every color and every creed, from across our nation and from more than 100 others. They were innocent. Harming no one, they went about their daily lives. Gone in a horrible instant, they now “dwell in the House of the Lord forever.”
We honor all those who gave their lives so that others might live, and all the survivors who battled burns and wounds and helped each other rebuild their lives; men and women who gave life to that most simple of rules: I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sister’s keeper.
We pay tribute to the service of a new generation — young Americans raised in a time of peace and plenty who saw their nation in its hour of need and said, “I choose to serve”; “I will do my part.” And once more we grieve. For you and your families, no words can ease the ache of your heart. No deeds can fill the empty places in your homes. But on this day and all that follow, you may find solace in the memory of those you loved, and know that you have the unending support of the American people.
Subscribe to comments with RSS.