As we near 9-11’s 10th anniversary…

After you read this post (or before, it’s up to you) read the first article I wrote about 9-11 here… dark day.

The two most recent articles I’ve written:

Last year I didn’t even write anything.  The 9th anniversary didn’t seem that special, I guess, or I was busy with life and after a few years it’s easier to forget than remember.  But now it’s 10 years.  It’s funny how humans have such an attachment to dates, anniversaries and numbers.  Some numbers are very well-known for their significance – 13 is unlucky, 3.1415926536 is pi.  But the number 2.1 means something very specific to me that I don’t share with anyone.  Some anniversaries are personal – weddings, birthdays … and some are universal like 9-11.  Everyone knows what you are referring to when you mention 9-11.

Or do they?  I wonder if we’ll remember what that meant to the world, to America, to New York, to Manhattan, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania in 100 years.  Do we remember today?  Have 10 years of the war on terror avenged that day?  Maybe, in a small way.  Have 10 years of the war on terror hurt our standing in the world?  Are the people behind the attacks better off?  Are we?  Is anyone?

I am a student of history.  I’ve read histories of the Russian Revolution over and over and I’ve been obsessed at times with (American) Civil War history, the Founding Fathers and the military history of the Battle of Stalingrad.  History is big, though.  Events that were earth-shattering when they took place become footnotes in the history of the world.  Remember Archduke Ferdinand? No checking Google.  Do you know what Beslan was?  Or Agincourt?  Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair.

But I’ve said this before on this blog and elsewhere, 9-11 was the great tragic event of MY life so far.  Maybe the two Space Shuttle disasters come close in emotional impact, but probably not.  This was the tragedy of my life, and although I understand in the scope of human history – for example, the tsunami of 2004 or the Holocaust or any number of tragedies – it was a small thing, it was the one I felt most intensely.  I left New York two plus years ago, but I think a small part of me died and stayed behind there 10 years ago.  It was the naïve part of me.  It was the part of me that was excited to come to the most interesting city on Earth, found out I loved it and then had a group of animals masquerading as humans (and they were – no doubt about it) attack it.

I saw the city and the world come together in love and then wrench apart in hate and never recover.  I don’t know what this event will look like in 100 years or 1000.  I won’t know, I’ll be gone.  Barring some increase in the average lifespan my children won’t, either.  I only know that 10 years after 9-11, I remember this:  I watched out the window of office on the 34th floor of a Manhattan highrise as the first and then the second tower fell with my own eyes.  I called my parents and said everything would be OK, while in my mind I was really saying goodbye, because I didn’t know.  I promised whatever else happened to find my little brother who lived in downtown Manhattan.  I walked out on the street to sirens and jet fighters.  That night the air was full of dust and fear of the unknown.  I doubt I’ll forget, even if history does.

Picture by me.

PS And as I’ve mentioned before, volunteering to help load Salvation Army relief trucks in downtown Manhattan in the following days was the only thing that kept me from curling up into a fetal position.  Support the Salvation Army, those men and women were working until they were passing out on their feet (literally).  They did good work without any intent of recognition or reward.