This is what I remember. I was pregnant with my first child, and getting ready for work. I never turn on the news in the morning. Never. But that day I did. I can’t remember why. Brian was on a fire assignment in California, and perhaps I was hoping to hear news of the fire. I sat down in shock as the Today Show struggled to make sense of the live footage. Brian immediately called, and headed home that same day.
My youngest sister was a grad student at NYU at the time, and working in a law firm just a few blocks from the towers. I immediately sent her an email, and am still grateful for her one line reply as they were being evacuated. It would be days before we could hear her voice, telling us where she was staying, as the windows of her apartment building had been blown out in the attack.
I had to go to work. That was a good thing---something to focus on, knowing my students would be shaken and that we, the faculty, would need to be strong and collected. I was driving Oregon’s I-5 when the radio announced the first tower fell. I remember being afraid I would have an accident, driving and crying.
I believe it was my friend Jeanie who had a television in her classroom, and several of us gathered in there to learn more. They showed too much and I left, hoping not to see or hear more until we heard from my sister. It was good to be with students, and to have Brian home that evening. We were glued to the TV, feeling completely useless, and worried about the world into which our son was about to be born.
I have struggled since then with what and how much to tell my sons about that day. George Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I know the world does not need this addition to the collection of “where I was when I heard” stories, but I’d like my sons to know, for that day to be more than historical facts for them.
We bake cookies on September 11 and deliver them to our local fire station. They always seem a bit embarrassed to accept them, and we’re a bit shy too, but this is what we choose to emphasize. My sons will learn soon enough of the evil in the world, of the terrible things humans do to each other. Aidan has asked me questions about slavery and WWII that I’ll never be able to answer. But what are we really called to remember today?
The bravery. The compassion. The love.
My cousin Rosemarie shared this link today.
She owns a bakery in Chicago, and one of her brothers is a Chicago fire fighter, and her other siblings are police officers.
There are so many good people in the world.
Yes, there is evil in the world and in each of us. But it is not more powerful than the love we share. Today we remember all the innocent souls who lost their lives on 9/11, the families who lost their loved ones, the first responders who walked into hell to help others, and heroes like Welles Crowther.
St Francis of Assisi said it best: “All the darkness of the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.”