Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Day of Remembrance

Memory is a funny thing. It becomes clouded as time goes by, things didn't happen as you think you remember. The faces of family and friends stay the same even though they age in real life. The memories of the houses that you grew up in are distorted by the fact that you were little. The house seemed so big but in reality you were actually so small. Places, people, events are all a tad hazy.

But there are events that remain stark and clear throughout your life. Events that are so out of the realm of your ordinary day that the reality of what happened is remember clearly and without distortion in the years to come. I was too young to clearly remember JFK's assassination, though I have vague memories of watching his funeral though I was only 3. I was too young to understand the import of the death of MLK or the landing on the moon. My stark and clear memory is 9/11.

These collective memories should be remembered. We need to think on them periodically, but not constantly. To view them critically for the lessons that can be gleaned from them. But we must remember them. To dismiss them and go on with our lives, never thinking about what happened is to dismiss what makes us the people that we are both on a personal and national level.

Every year on this date I re-read what I wrote on that Tuesday. It is my way to remember. To remember the feelings of that day, to honor those who died in the WTC and on the planes. To honor those individuals civilian, firefighter and police who gave their lives to help others. I re-read to honor my friend George, who was in the WTC that day and looked up to see the plane coming at him and lived to tell, in his quiet Irish brogue, what happened that day. I re-read to remember. This is what I wrote that day:

-Beautiful morning, not a cloud in the sky, Ash and I out to swim as usual, did 30 minutes of laps.
- Oh God, I know that all things are in your hands but sometimes it is hard to remember this. A day that started out so similar to any other day. Heather was calling as we walked in the door. I started to sing "Happy Birthday" to her and she said, "Shut up, shut up! You have to turn on the TV right now. There has been a plane that crashed into the World Trade Center in NYC!" Greeted by horror. As I watched the TV, to my horror ANOTHER plane appeared and crashed into the second tower! It appears that one of the planes originated in Boston and the other from Newark or so they are saying. Then, when we were still taking this in came word that a THIRD plane had hit the Pentagon. THE PENTAGON. Both towers of WTC eventually collapsed. Horror, horror. Both towers completely gone. How can that be? When the towers finally collapsed there were many people still inside both buildings. It is still not known how many are dead. Since there was no elecricity in the buildings peopel were having to go down the stairs. Mom Q called to say that Laura and Bjorn are both safe. Bjorn had not left for work yet and his office is no longer in the WTC but that was where he was going to be later in the morning for a meeting.
- death toll still unknow by evening. Spent all day watching the TV. Ash did no school work today, how could we. Meg called from school very upset and wanting to know if Bjorn was OK. 267 people lost on the 4 planes. That alone is staggering but to think that 4000 people may have died in the WTC is more than my mind can comprehend. We have been so compacent in this country. So sheltered. We always assume that these things won't happen here. We are wrong.
- The sky is silent because all planes in the US are now on the ground. That is mind boggling in itself. The talk is that they will remain on the ground until atleast noon tomorrow.
- President Bush spoke in the evening. He stated that we (the US) will not make any distincitons between the terrorists who have done this and the counties that harbor them. Good.
- Life can never be the same.


  1. On 9/11/2001 Mimi and I had just left a Wheaton College Artist Series board of directors meeting, and were walking to our car when my cell phone rang, and it was Rob with the news that an aircraft had struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center. We hurried home, turned on the TV, and learned that a second aircraft had impacted the South Tower. . . . and about 30 minutes later a third aircraft had hit the west side of the Pentagon.

    Things have never been the same since that day - I am reminded of the 9/11 events each time we go through airport security, and I have a "full body" pat-down because of metallic prostheses in my knee and hip.

  2. Post #2 for Thursday. Deb . . . you were too young to remember the details of of JFK's assassination on November 22, 1963, but I was in OB/GYN Residency at Northwestern, and was working at my "moonlighting" job at the old Alexian Brothers hospital (actually I was taking a nap, having probably been up at night doing a delivery) when JPA called me with the news that the President had been shot. I hurried down to the "closed ward" which was primarily populated with alcoholic priests, and watched the TV with mixed horror and disbelief as the events in Dealy Plaza and Parkland Hospital unfolded.

    Still vivid in my mind are the subsequent capture (and shooting by Jack Ruby) of Lee Harvey Oswald, the hurried swearing-in of Lyndon Baines Johnson, the Presidential funeral and procession to Arlington Cemetery. . . and of course the famous Abraham Zapruder film showing the effects of a high-velocity bullet on the human skull. As you know, many people still do not believe the conclusions of the Warren Commission, and there have been innumerable books and articles, and one Oliver Stone movie setting forth various conspiracy theories.

    Apparently assassination of presidents is a distinctly American phenomenon. In addition to Kennedy, there were (1) Abraham Lincoln (2) James Garfield, and (3) William McKinley. In recent history Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and both Bush #1 and Bush #2 have been the subjects of attempted assassination.

    Ain't Wikipedia great?


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