Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11 Memories

Time is a strange thing. When I sat staring at the clock in my 7th grade math class it seemed to stand still. But when summer finally came, the days would race by like a series of comets blazing out across the sky. So it is with 9/11. It's been 11 years since the towers fell.  On that day my children were middle schoolers, my wife was still in her thirties and my mother had 11 years to live. It doesn't seem possible.

I remember exactly where I was when I saw the first images...my office on Glen Forest Drive. There was a small television on my desk. At first we watched in horror and mostly silence except for whispered prayers of "God help us...". By the time the second tower came down our mood had changed. Anger and righteous indignation replaced fear and helplessness the minute we realized that this was no accident, that we were under attack. It seems like an eternity since that day, that feeling.

Back then we were all sure that this was only the first wave, that there would be many more equally devastating attacks. We all gathered our families close, but a second wave never came. Now the legacy of that day is the annoyance we feel in line at the airport watching grandmothers and 6 year olds getting patted down by grim TSA people in cheap uniforms.

There's finally something at ground zero. After years of enviornmental impact studies and turf wars and bureaucratic incompetence there's a memorial that cost $700 million to build and will cost $60 million a year to operate. In 1972 it cost $400 million to build the towers, now it cost almost twice that to build a hole in the ground. Such is progress.

On this day I will say a prayer for the families who lost loved ones. I will remember what it felt like. I will once again watch that horrible footage. But luckily for me I will also think about my big sister Linda, who was born on 9/11. The blessing of her life and her powerful presence in the life of my family will always redeem this day. The celebration of her life will for all time balance the scales and brighten the dark sky that history has placed on September 11th.