9/11 is probably the most meaningful and memorable day for me. I think it should become a federal holiday, because it means tons more than Presidents’ Day or (for us in Illinois) Casimir Pulaski Day. I’m sure D-Day meant as much to another generation. But this is the day that always gets my heart stuck in my throat. I don’t want to celebrate, but I still grieve. How quickly we forget how united we became, how we all mourned together. Most of us in the nation didn’t know anyone directly affected by the attacks, yet we were all connected to them.
I remember the first days, when time stopped and we all waited. The unending newscasts replaying the same footage over and over. We waited to find out what really happened, and whether there were survivors. We celebrated through our grief when we heard stories of the ordinary people who fought bravely to stop the terrorists on the plane, the first responders who worked tirelessly to do their duty, not their job.
And over the next few weeks, when there was no more news, yet we still saw those same images on tv because we weren’t sure if we could move on, and we wondered when it would be okay to joke again, to laugh again, to celebrate birthdays and weddings and life again.
Eventually, though, we did move on. Our lives started again. We had to go to work, pay the bills, buy groceries. Eventually 9/11 became a memory, albeit still raw and not too distant. At some point we rarely thought about it except when September rolled around and we remembered, because you can’t say the date without conjuring up those images again. Now every year, I try to carry on and forget about the day, but then it hits me and before I know it there’s that lump in my throat again.
I remember. I won’t forget.
As an aside, I want to recommend a little-known movie called The Guys from 2002. It stars Sigourney Weaver and Anthony LaPaglia. The Guys gave a voice to the grief that was still so fresh. Go check it out.
Image courtesy heavy.com