I still can't believe it has been ten years since I watched the towers fall - first at school, then later at home with my family. The day was surreal and I remember feeling life would never, ever be the same. In some respects, this sentiment is true - our lives have been forever changed. On the other hand, life moved forward and our safe feeling of normalcy has resumed. It was gut-wrenching to watch the reading of the names this morning, with children paying tribute to the fathers they never met, but also comforting to see the circle of life continue.
Many images from that day will be forever embedded in my mind; I can no longer watch the footage of the towers falling without turning away. Certainly many of these images have been replayed over and over again today, but I so clearly remember one piece of footage I have never again seen replayed in ten years. A husband and wife - their business suits covered in dust and looking terrified and disheveled - spotted each other in the same subway station. The only thing more emotional than the scream they both let out upon spotting each other, was the embrace and tears that followed. I think about that couple often, unable to process the thought of not being able to contact or not knowing where Mike might be if something like 9/11 ever happened again. And my heart breaks for every couple and family that were not as lucky as those two people.
I moved to New York over three years ago and each anniversary of 9/11 is a somber and quiet day in the city. Residents jump at the sound of an airplane flying by or a blaring siren. We are all a little nicer to each other; we know each person is thinking of that day ten years ago, of the family and neighbors who perished downtown. In the years that have followed, I have watched as my family and friends have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. I have prayed for their safe return each night, rejoiced when I am able to hug them again, and shed many tears for a friend who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Among all the emotions of this weekend, I suddenly realized my own children will never know the pain and terror that overtook our country that day. Perhaps the most meaningful contribution I will be able to make will be to teach my children about that day and how it changed our world forever; that freedom does not, and will never, come free.
Never forgive. Never forget.