I don’t want to think about what today means. But yet, how could I possibly forget? How could I ever forget what I saw? How does someone remove something like this from their history?
See, I am of the belief that there is hope and there is healing. I am of the belief that healing is not forgetting and feeling is not reliving —It’s only remembering.
I go back to this day in my mind often enough but today is the anniversary of a loss like nothing I have ever seen before. Today is the anniversary of a loss that I never thought I would see. No one ever thought something like this would touch our country, let alone New York or the Pentagon. I’d like to think with all my heart that had I been on either of the planes that I would be like the ones on the plane that fought back. And sadly, no, they didn’t make it but then again, neither did the terrorists.
I think it’s funny sometimes when I hear kids tell me about this country and what they’ve gone through, but yet, they’re still so young. They weren’t even alive when The Towers went down. They never had the opportunity to see the damage. They never saw the City run in fear. Or, they never held a stranger like an old woman I met the next day in Pennsylvania Station. She was crying with her little dog because she just lost everything. I remember her very clearly. She was covered in dust. Her little dog was wagging its tail, so scared, but yet, just hoping for some warmth that comes from an extended hand. And yes, safe to say that I gave both. If anything I have ever done in this world could redeem me; I think this moment given to the little old woman is something I feel in my heart. She just watched her entire life go down in crumbles. What kind of man (if I am one at all) would I be if I stood there and did not offer her something.
See, I am unsure if people truly understand what violence is. I am not sure if they know what true terror is. It seems to me that most people do not understand what it means to see something so unmerciful that thousands of lives were literally extinguished. I’ve heard people discuss the reasoning behind the attacks but I’m sorry, no there is no reason. There is no logic. There is only hatred and the confusion of government and the brutality of war and wartime hatred.
I don’t like to think about this but whether I like to or not, this happened. Hatred exits. Deceit exists. And maybe we will never know what really happened. Maybe we will never know the real reason for 9/11 but either way, all I know is I watched my city be destroyed. I watched my city go through the rebuild and I saw the new buildings in their place.
No matter where I go, I will always be a part of this City. And if ever or wherever I roam or move to; rest assured, I will always remember. I will never surrender. United we stand and divided we fall.
I believe this, by the way — about being divided, I mean. I believe that we are more divided now than ever before. I believe that a strong rebuild requires solidarity. This is how the downtown scene was rebuilt because whether we agreed on politics or not, at the time, we realized that arguing does not put bricks in place. And fighting about who we should blame did not rebuild the City. No, this was something that came from teamwork. Somehow, there is this problem that goes on if people don’t agree. No one agrees to disagree anymore. You’re either with me or against me, right?
And how’s that working for us?
Safe to say that as a country, we make rookie mistakes. And I can say this because relatively speaking, we are still extremely young in comparison to other countries. We are still kids. If you think about it, we are comparable to teenagers.
We have so much. We take things for granted. We are certainly going through some growing pains right now. We are fighting amongst ourselves but to what avail? My hope is that we all grow up soon.
Forgive me though, I need to think about something different today. In honor of my friends, I offer them my prayers for the day I lost them on September 11, 2001.
I am thinking of a road trip. I am thinking of a place far away, Upstate maybe. I am thinking of a place where people are comfortable being common and say simple things.
I am thinking of a drive somewhere to a place where the sky is blue. The grass is green and the trees are full. I am thinking of a retreat — or somewhere far away from the world. And I imagine my friends here. I imagine their smiles.
This is a visit. At least, in my mind.
I’d like to see all the friends that I lost from this day or subsequently after because keep in mind; something people forget is not everyone that died from 9/11 are people that died on 9/11.
I want to see a young man that I met at a wedding. He was supposed to be married on October 19 but no. His floor was the first to be hit. He had just hung up the phone with his bride to be. She just picked up her wedding dress, which, since the body was never recovered, the supposed-to-be-bride buried her dress in place of her loved one’s body. She placed her dress in the coffin in place of him.
I’d like to imagine him the way I recall him. Friendly as ever. I would like to see him on this retreat. And Father Mike. I’d like to see him too. Maybe we could challenge each other to a pie eating contest or something.
I’d like to see Vito too. I’d like to reach out to the souls of the people we lost on this day and see them in this paradise of mine.
I want to see their faces. I want to see their smiles. I want them to know that I have not forgotten them and that who they are and what they went through is still in my heart.
I am sure that where they are and as they are now is of the spirit. And because they are of the spirit, I imagine they would tell me a few things about my mournful thoughts and the pain that hits my heart.
I’m sure I know what Father Mike (Casualty #0001) would tell me.
He would tell me, “It’s good to see you.”
He’d say, “I’m glad you remember me,” and then he’d thank me.
Then he’d say, “But son, you have to remember something. You have to understand that life happens. Death happens too. And the only thing I want for my loved ones is for them to live the best life possible.”
I know Father Mike would say this to me. So if I am to honor him, then I have to honor him by living his wishes. I will have to honor all of their wishes.
Sleep well, my friends.
I must remember this is only a rest.
One day, I know that I will see you again
In honor of All~