17 years is a long time. Kids grow up. Adults grow old. People move on. Memories fade.
But, not these memories. Not the memories of jets scrambling outside my office near Dulles airport. The horror watching the day unfold.
One moment that continues to stick out to me was a bit more than a month after 9/11. I was in NYC for a work trip, my first time back to the city since 9/11. The subway took me as far south as it could, and I walked from there. I needed to see the carnage for myself. A small part of it didn’t seem real. Not my city. Not New York. The moment I’ll remember most isn’t the stores closed, boarded up because of no customers. Nor of the temporary power lines running down every street. Not even the wreckage itself, though the one piece of metal sticking up out of the pile was a sight I won’t soon forget.
That one moment that sticks out was when I realized how quiet it was. No cars. Very few people. Those that were there came to pay their respects, quietly. I remember walking over near Battery Park to see a memorial, where folks had laid flowers and other heartfelt items for loved ones lost. At that moment, I was at a loss for what to do, where to go. I just stood there and absorbed it.
The enormity of that moment is inescapable. Of so many moments during those days and weeks. So many people gave their life to help others that day. The sacrifices of so many will be remembered. Even after the streets were repaved, buildings reconstructed, monuments erected.
I write a post about 9/11 every year at this time. Sometimes I’m flying, other times I’m home. I don’t go back and read previous posts I’ve written about 9/11 before I write a new one. This just isn’t something scripted. It’s something everyone in our generation lived through. We owe it to all those who lost a life or a loved one on 9/11. To take just a moment on this day.
We still remember.