Friday, September 11, 2009

Persistence of Memory

I never think dwelling on the events of 9/11 is particularly constructive. I didn't know any victims nor do I know families of victims, but I would hope that whatever is done to memorialize the dead helps them rather than causing them to relive misery.

Certainly, like all humans who watched those events unfold that day, I have specific memories. I was pregnant with Fletcher, a little over a month until I would have him. I was huge, tired, and had swollen ankles. I was still reporting to work in an office back then so I was watching the television as I got ready to leave for work. I saw the confused coverage of the first tower/plane collision, thinking for a bit, that it was just a small plane accidentally hitting the building. As we watched the reporters discuss the first tragedy with no real information, no context, we saw the second plane hit. I had the confused response at the time that it was just showing us the first collision, not a second. But as the truth hit me, I realized none of this was accident. We were watching a singularly horrible event unfold.

I remember I had to go to work even though tearing myself away from the images was difficult. We were allowed to have the television in the conference room on and each person wandered in and out checking to see what was happening. I was just an administrative assistant so I had more time to check and was in the room watching when the first tower fell. I and others in the room gasped.

All day as the second tower fell and we watched people run from the dust cloud, fall from the sky, rescued or dead, we watched without believing. It was too terrible to view as anything but an event removed from us in Dallas, almost something pretend being shown to us. It would take days to truly understand the extent of the horror.

I saw someone write that they felt this year's anniversary particularly but didn't understand why. His wife remarked, perhaps it's because it's the first year, the anniversary isn't being used to illustrate some inappropriate political agenda. I think she's right. We have moved on to a new President, something of a new era, where we can remember our dead, our heroes, without the context of using this event as impetus to make bad decisions. I can only hope in the coming anniversaries that we see that the reminder of this event pushes our country to use those feelings for good.

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