One can hardly wake today and, noticing the calendar, fail to recall exactly where you were on this day 18 years ago. The news stations, the History Channel and even the talk shows are full of stories rehearsing for us all to remember the terrible and agonizing details of 9.11.01.
I find myself unable to watch these stories. It was hard enough the first time – in real-time – to imagine that this horror was happening. Now, nearly two decades later, it is an even more miserable way to spend my day.
I worked that day, 9.11.01, in a nursing home, on the transitional care unit, and I remember distinctly as I completed the evening medication pass, I was turning OFF the news channels and forcing everyone in my care to watch, “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”. I had a wing full of people recovering from their own trauma, strokes, orthopedic surgeries, open-heart procedures, and the very last thing they needed as they attempted to fall asleep was to watch their world go up in flames again, and again, and again.
It was a traumatic time. And it lasted for weeks, and months, and even years. The FDNY lost 343 members on 9/11. But the dying didn’t stop there. Just this summer, the 200th fire fighter succumbed to the poisonous particles and gasses that filled the lungs of first-responders on that dreadful day. He died just as the Senate finally agreed to extend the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund.
It is a hard day for remembering. It is a hard day for moving forward.
I cannot imagine what the day means to you or how it dredges up the past or paints the future for you. I can only speak to the cloud that hangs over the images and sounds I remember from that day and am horribly reminded of again, through television images today.
For myself, I want to remember those who willingly ran toward danger when most of us would run away. I want to honor those who sacrificed in the midst of the tragedy and for the years that followed to rebuild that sacred ground into a monument that reflects once again our freedom, and not our terror. I want to quietly respect the mourning that continues in thousands of families across America for loved ones lost or changed forever by the chaos of that day.
I will remember. I will move on. But not before I bow my head in gratitude that on the day it seemed the world could end, it did not. On the day that war came to our shores, we emerged as a people who still search for peace.