It has been 18 years. Personally, I will never forget.
However, what I choose to remember may not be the same for me as others. There are those who choose to remember only what “they” did to us. True, there are things I saw that day I will never be able to “un-see.” Nightmarish images, not from any television or movie. Scenes of death and destruction which are the very cause of PTSD.
Still, those inexplicable tragic memories are not what I choose to dwell on. I will always remember what “WE” did in response. I vow to remember, honor, and praise the victims. People who didn’t know what hit them. People of all backgrounds, occupations, and faiths.
Honor, praise, and remember the heroes who knowingly, purposefully, and selflessly ran into danger. I remember how we were galvanized with a sense of duty, not just New Yorkers, not just fire fighters and police; every one of us.
I remember crowds of people lining West Street waving and cheering all the police and fire vehicles as they moved to and from ground zero. Countless gatherings, fundraisers, programs, and institutions started and invested with the mission of healing. I remember a can-do spirit where everyone had his or her hands out to aid, comfort, rescue, recover, and restore. The most common phrases I remember were “what do you need?” and “how can I help you?” I remember an outpouring of grief and support from the entire planet. How very faraway that unity seems to me now.
From my brief hours on a bucket brigade, to long and weary tedium of overnight shifts in the command center, I became one with people working as part of a solution to mind boggling crisis. I will never forget the dedication, and willful sacrifice made by soldiers. I will never forget the love.
This is my third 9/11 away from New York City. My first was to attend Dad’s funeral in 2008. The past two I have been here, in my new home, yet I realize now that I will always and forever be a New Yorker.
I will never forget the people. Those I am blessed to have met and worked alongside during our darkest hours. I want to thank them for their service. My personal choice on how to combat what “they” tried to do is to make sure I participate with good faith in creating and maintaining the kind of America in which we can all take part.
In brief, I will ever choose to remember the good brought out in each of us during a time of great adversity. Remember the steady leadership of those who would not let hate define us, who would not allow division to usurp our humanity.