There is so much I want to say every year on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington DC, but at the moment I am writing this I am talked out. The media is saturated with remembrances, specials, replays of events timed to coincide with the moments those things happened. I am in the media and produced some of those audio pieces that are running on my radio stations this morning, including a moment of silence for each plane that crashed. Ten year anniversaries always get more attention than other years; it’s that zero-year I thing I’ve often written about.
Some people cope with grief by remembering details and some cope by ignoring them. I am in the “remembering” camp. I want to and do remember that day ten years ago in great detail … where I was, how I felt as each new piece of information came out, how I reacted. I retell the stories at every opportunity. I am probably annoying as hell when I do that. But I have repeated my stories and listened to others so much in the past few weeks that I am almost numb to it today. As soon as I post this I have to go into work to finish a project, then I’m meeting friends for drinks and food at some waterfront place I’ve never seen before. After this post I believe my memories of that horrible day will recede into personal silence for the rest of the day. But I know I’ll be thinking about it.
I want to remember the fear. I want to remember the panic, the traffic jams, the intense desire for information, the thought that I live so close to DC that one of those planes might have flown right over my house as it took aim on the Pentagon. I want to remember coming home to see my wife doing exactly what I had planned to do – filling our front garden with little American flags, as if that could protect us somehow, then going inside and hugging each other for five minutes (a happier time in my now crumbling marriage) while standing in front of the TV watching live coverage of billowing smoke filling the skyline of two major American cities
I also want to remember how suddenly Americans went out of their/our way to help each other; a coming together of spirit that is often non-existent in our crazybusy lives
I did two things yesterday that are connected to this anniversary in ways I would not have expected ten years ago. In the morning I joined other volunteers in a community service project during which we helped clean up a recreation center in a low-income section of DC. September 11th has become a focal point for volunteer organizations to use that moment to bring people together again and capture that one brief positive aspect of that day. Then last night I went to a Toby Keith concert. He and his music have become focal points for the anger we all felt that day (see song below) and for saluting the heroic actions of firefighters, police and the military. He has done numerous concerts overseas with the U.S.O., many domestic activities for wounded warriors and patients at hospitals. He does much of that in private. The DC area stop for his annual concert tours in recent years has occurred on or near September 11th and he is usually in town before and after, making un-publicized visits to places like the Walter Read Army Hospital. At the show last night, his pre-concert meet-and-greet included spending plenty of time with veterans and wounded warriors and he made many on-stage salutes to them.
OK, so now I am REALLY talked out. I guess I needed this. Thanks for reading it. God bless America.