I wrote this many years ago on my older blog, Tales From Another Time, but I still believe in these words. 14 years later, when I really remember, I can still vividly recall every second of that horrible day.
Those four key strokes bring back so many memories for so many. For me, it reminds me of the darkest day I have ever known. Full of death, and fear, and tragedy. Any innocence I may have had, any idealistic hope I had for world peace, it died that day. I saw the face of hatred. I felt the fear the word terror brings. We all did. We cried. We prayed. We sat in front of our television sets and watched horror unfold before our eyes. We looked at an empty sky with a mind-numbing feeling of disbelief. We were in shock for weeks after. We knew there wouldn’t be many survivors. We wanted to close our eyes and pretend it didn’t happen, that people didn’t die that day, and yet, we couldn’t. We knew.
Every year, on that day, I try to remember it. I firmly believe it should be a national day of mourning. Not a holiday. A holiday is a day of celebration. This day should be a somber day. A day of remembrance. A day of solitude.
I honestly don’t think there has been a day since that I haven’t thought of it. It still makes me sad and angry. I think about my son, who will be five next week. And how he didn’t have to live on that day. He was born more than two and a half years later. For him, it will be a very important chapter in a history book. He will ask me what happened that day, and I will tell him. He will ask why, and whose fault it was. And I really don’t know what I will tell him. You can blame Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden. You can blame the agencies that could have prevented it had they simply communicated with each other. But at the end of the day, what will that change? What happened, happened.
I think about the jumpers from time to time. And that painful choice they must have had. Die of fire and smoke or leap to certain death. For those who chose to look in pictures and on tv, those images will stay with us forever. I was raised Catholic. To me, suicide is not an option under any circumstances. But what do you call that choice? You know you are going to die. You won’t be saved. What do you do? I pray to God no one ever has to make that choice again.
Since that fateful day, the world has become a chaotic place. It has always been that way, but the mask was torn off that day. What we hoped and prayed wasn’t the case turned out to be very real. Wars have been fought, greed has elevated, and the world’s economy is the worst since the pre World War II years. I believe what we are looking at is evil run rampant. There is no black and white, or even gray areas. It is what it is and it is called chaos.
In the coming years, we will negotiate with fundamentalists who destroy lives. We will see the seeds of greed in our own homes, as the economic meltdown gets worse and every single household is affected. We will see uglier terroristic attacks and somewhere someone will die because of it. We will see the world reject us more and more as our environment is changed in ways we never imagined or in ways we didn’t want to see. We will see areas of the world once vibrant with life turned into desserts.
And yet, we will survive. We will do what we did in those days and weeks after 9/11. We will pick up the pieces of our shattered lives, and look for hope. I pray we will unite and conquer these problems together. Not by electing someone to lead us, but by truly coming together and defeating the evils that plague us. We need to stop blaming others for the shape of the world and form new shapes. We need to recognize that what someone believes in isn’t always wrong, but their own point of view. We need to walk on.
*Editor’s note: The original version of this appeared a year ago today. I have added the U2 video and changed the number of years.