Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering


It's another beautiful morning in New York City -- September 11, 2011.  The 9/11 memorial located at the site of the World Trade Center is opening as the names of the dead are being read.  Moments of silence are being observed.  Water is cascading down into the reflecting pools like the tears that streamed down our faces that day and in the days that have followed.

The bell is tolling right now -- marking the strike on the Pentagon.  On TV, elected officials alternate with the families of the deceased.  James Taylor is on hand to sing Close Your Eyes as he quietly strums his guitar.  Something hopeful yet sad about those lyrics -- "you can sing this song when I'm gone."

The names of those who were lost are engraved on the walls surrounding the pools.   The children of the rescuers are making rubbings of their names while wearing their parents' hats.  Others stand mutely with pictures or flags and stare deep into the reflecting pools as if somehow the answer to the events of this day -- nay the events of a thousand days over time -- can be found there.

For 9/11 is only one of many days that we humans have endured because of the hate we feel for each for other.  The bell is tolling right now -- marking the fall of the South Tower.  On the TV, another of our elected representatives is reading a poem followed by Emi Ferguson playing Amazing Grace.  The haunting notes of her flute playing waft gently out over a silent crowd.  The half-finished Freedom Tower stands solidly in the background

The bell is tolling -- for the United Airlines flight that crashed into the ground in Shanksville.  Another elected reads a poem.  Somehow the appearance of these dignitaries among the families of those that were lost rings hollow.  One can imagine the discussions of who was going to do what on this solemn day.

We are up to the G's now.   Flowers and flags are beginning to cover the wall of names.  Long stemmed red roses laid gently are interspersed with carnations and lilies standing tall with their stems placed gently into the corners of the names.  Rubbings are still being made.

I wrote about what that day in 2001 was like for me in  2010 -- Today.  This year, it's sad to watch the parents who lost children and the children who lost parents as they read the names of those who died on September 11, 2001.  Their losses are still palpable.

The bell is tolling -- marking the fall of the north tower.  Another elected is speaking followed by Paul Simon singing Sounds of Silence.  Sadly, Garfunkel is not at his side.  A fireman's worn helmet rests gently on the wall of names.

It's almost 12:30 now and they are reading the names beginning with S.  I've missed the L's -- someone from my hometown, an old schoolmate from my grammar school days.  He was a year behind me.   Nice guy.  Nice family.  Ten years later, still hard to believe he is gone.

As I listen to the names and watch the pictures scroll across the bottom of my screen, it is clear that the victims of 9/11 reflect the diversity of our country.   We are a nation born of immigration.  Not so far away from this memorial site is another wall on Ellis Island -- engraved with the names of those who came here because they wanted a better life.  That is the foundation that we stand upon and the strength that helps us to get through hard times.

They are coming to a close now with the reading of the names.   A formal place for remembering our dead and that day in 2001 is now open.   The water gently flows into the footprints that mark the foundations of the towers.  The hole in the New York skyline is being filled.  The hole in our hearts remains.

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