Peggy Noonan, one of my favorite writers, wrote an interesting piece explaining that this is a grief we should not get over.
They tell us to get over it, they say to move on, and they mean it well: We can't bring an air of tragedy into the future. But I will never get over it. To get over it is to get over the guy who stayed behind on a high floor with his friend who was in a wheelchair. To get over it is to get over the woman by herself with the sign in the darkness: "America You Are Not Alone." To get over it is to get over the guys who ran into the fire and not away from the fire.
You've got to be loyal to pain sometimes to be loyal to the glory that came out of it.
And, she wrote of small things that stay in our memories that didn't seem so memorable at the time. I know exactly what she means. It is the small moments that stay with us as we try to move past those images of very tall buildings falling to the ground. Or of the poor souls jumping to their deaths from those buildings in utter desperation.
Various moments come to my memory from out of the blue, it seems.
I remember the mom who told me of the first plane hitting as we waited in our children's school's parking lot, seeing them off for a four day camping trip at Enchanted Rock - a part of their outdoor education cirriculm. She said, "we are a nation at war now." I thought she couldn't be right. I thought she was overstating the incident.
I remember shivering at the news that one plane left from Logan Airport in Boston, only hours after my husband left from that airport on a trip overseas.
I remember going to the school's library, where I was a regular volunteer, and sitting there for a few minutes to collect my thoughts and gather any information I could from other parents.
I remember one school library votunteer telling me that the school's internet capability for the library computers was shut off so the children wouldn't be exposed to it all yet.
I remember my walking into my house and my mom asking me, "have you heard?" and then we turned to the tv screen to see the second plane hit the World Trade Center tower.
I remember the scattered feeling as I thought of my husband in Hong Kong and my son on a bus with his classmates.
My son's bus was eventually turned around and the children arrived back in Houston that afternoon. I had to explain the day's events to him, why his trip was being postponed. He was in fifth grade.
I remember my husband calling from Hong Kong asking questions about what was happening. He was sleeping in a hotel on a layover and had been awakened by a collegue telling him to turn on CNN. He was leaving for S. Korea later that day to commission the rig that would be known as the Deepwater Horizon and its sister rig, the Nautilaus.
I remember the French newspaper headline - We Are All Americans Now.
I remember feeling numb. And horrified. And then crying for days. The human stories were unbearable. I subscribed to The New York Times for the series on the lives of the victims.
I remember seeing and hearing the military jets patroling the air space here in my city, Houston, and learning that this city was one that had been on the terrorists target list. It was a familar sight and sound for weeks afterwards.
I will never forget the gratitude I felt as I watched the Super Bowl half time show just a few short months after the events of Sept.11, 2001. U2 was the entertainment and Bono was singing "Beautiful Day". During that song, he opened his leather jacket and the lining was patterned after the American flag. I was awash with pride seeing that famous Irish man express his solidarity with Americans that day.
A few days ago, I read an article that proclaimed Bono would be a "proud American" on 9/11/11 as we reflect on the ten year anniversary of that awful day.
As the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks draws near, U2 frontman Bono admits he's "a very proud American on 9/11."
He says "it's just too big a moment in all our lives. Even if you're not American, everyone became an American that day."
I may love him forever.
I am grateful for the leaders we had in place that day. President Bush, NYC Mayor Guiliani, especially, proved to be up to the task. The unity of people was a saving grace, for the bit of time it was in place.