September 11th. It occurred to me today just how much I and many others have come to be impacted by that word and number. September 11th. See what I mean? Whether they are found on a calendar or letterhead or a computer screen just viewing them does something in the pit of one’s stomach. September 11th. Abbreviating them by saying or writing 9/11 doesn’t lessen their effect. We have a 9/11 Museum, 9/11 Memorials, 9/11 Commemorations and even a 9/11 Commission but what we are doing in it all is dealing with September 11th. The world I live in, New York City, arguably the greatest city in the world, measures time in increments that can be best expressed by “before” or “after” September 11th.
This morning I was privileged to be at a Firehouse to stand with amazingly brave men to remember the members of their department who died on September 11th. There were moments of silence at 8:46 AM (First Plane Hits), 9:03 AM (Second Plane Hits), 9:59 AM (South Tower Falls), and 10:28 AM (North Tower Falls), to commemorate the tragedy of September 11th. I can’t help but categorize the men there as those who joined the department before and those who joined the department after September 11th.
An elderly woman passed by us as we stood in formation outside the Firehouse. As she observed us, she inquired in frantic tones “Did someone die?” We whispered back “No, it’s 9/11”. She looked so relieved. What we meant to say was “Lady, 343 someones (firefighters) died along with 2977 other someones. It’s September 11th!”
It’s been seventeen years since September 11th. A lot has changed, a lot has happened good and bad in the 204 months or in the 6205 days or in the 148,920 hours or in the almost nine million minutes since September 11th. It is more than a memory for so many of us. Much more than a memory. Memories fade. September 11th has not.
Personally, I wish I could forget. I wish the memory, the taste of adrenaline, from anger and fear weren’t so fresh. And for the families of the victims I wish it wasn’t all so raw and real. And I’m sure they wish that too. They say time heals all wounds. I guess “they” never had a September 11th.
I wish September 11th could be taken off the calendar and we could skip right to September 12th, corrected by permanently adding a February 29th. Of course that will never happen because that date and its meaning are written with an ink that seems never to fade on a parchment that seems new every year. Besides, we have promised to never forget. But then again how could we? It’s September 11th.
Dear Lord on this day and always help us to remember the fallen, to honor the brave, to pray for the survivors, to remember the widowed, the grief-stricken and the orphaned and to look to You for comfort and answers which will only be fully known and experienced on the other side in glory where every wrong is made right, every tear is wiped away and where there will be no more crying and no more dying and no more September 11th. Amen