It is that time of year again. We say that about holidays but not usually about things that are so somber, so laden with grief even after 11 years, but 9/11 is a day that is so significant, so life altering even for those who were not born at the time, and it is necessary and compelling to recognize the day in meaningful ways.
The most notable ceremonies are the ones that are officially held at what is known as Ground Zero, the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan, and at the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. These are the places where a harsh dose of a reality came to America, when the attacks woke us from our collective slumber. Before that we were all lost in some sort of dream, deep in a foggy place where we thought we were untouchable. How irrevocably did 9/11 shake us all awake with a cruel dose of painful truth: we were vulnerable, exposed, and violated. America was like any other place in the world where terrorism had reared its ugly head.
Eleven years later there are those people who still don't get it, and there are others who choose to forget. Perhaps these are convenient methods to move on with lives, to ignore or selectively block out the thing that is a national nightmare. If this helps people move on, so be it, but they must understand that there are those of us who cannot forget. We will never forget until we close our eyes for the final time.
We lost a family member that day. Last year my sister got up the strength to read some names, including her Steve's, at the ceremony at Ground Zero. I watched with tears in my eyes as I do every year, but this time I also felt so much pride because my little sister overcame all her fears and grief to stand tall, to read the names of others, to read Steve's name, and she didn't falter. This took so much courage and determination, but this had to be done and she did it.
Before Steve walked out their door on what seemed to be just another Tuesday morning, he asked to borrow $20 from my sister. He wanted to buy bagels for the guys in the firehouse. This was how they were there, brothers who cared for one another and made sure there was food on the table. That's how families are and those men were a family. She gave him a twenty and he walked out the door into the impossibly beautiful blue sky day, disappearing into the bright sunshine. She would never see him again.