We’ve all heard the phrases “Never forget” and “Never again” in reference to the Holocaust and other national tragedies that befall ordinary citizens and, for a while, we don’t forget. All we do is remember the horror, the rage, the pain, the feelings of helplessness and insecurity. Yet, today, we find ourselves seven years removed from the events of September 11th and I wonder how many of us have forgotten?
I’m ashamed to admit that I forgot. Or, rather, the date didn’t stick in my mind. I woke up this morning and went through with my normal morning ritual — I even noted the date because I had to be at work a little early to open the library but still there was no spark…It wasn’t until half an hour ago that it clicked. Today is the day that changed our lives forever.
I, like most Americans, remember exactly what I was doing at the moment it all happened…I was getting my youngest daughter ready for school and watching Katie Couric and Matt Lauer do their usual morning banter, then came the breaking news that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. There was no hysteria, no sense of urgency, other than that normally granted to a breaking news story…then came, “Oh, my God, there’s another one…” For almost two hours I sat glued to the television, my children’s school day long forgotten. When it was announced that these were terrorist attacks, I gathered up my three youngest children and drove to my oldest daughter’s school to pick her up. I wanted my family close to me.
The rest of the day was spent in a haze…seeing people jump to their deaths from the towers, watching the buildings sway and then collapse, finding out the Pentagon had been attacked and knowing that there were still unaccounted for flights in the air…All day and night, I sat transfixed.
So, how is it possible that seven years later I could forget? That I could almost let this day pass without so much as a blip in the mental registry? It wasn’t done on purpose, it’s what happens in the course of living: our lives take over, bad memories fade and we go on. So while it may seem that we Americans have lost our anger and our sorrow, I don’t think that’s true. Collectively, we had to go on living, we had to rebuild our lives and find that sense of purpose/hope/faith/security that we had pre-9/11. In this way, we honor those who died and those who continue to live with the scars of that fateful day.