Today is a day to stop and pause. To think how our world changed forever on one sunny September day is frightening. Everything we do, from travelling to shipping a package, is forever changed by that one day. You don't hop on a plane headed for Disneyworld without thinking about that day. You don't stand at the monuments in Washington D.C. without it first and foremost in your mind. Well--security won't let you forget it anyway. And definitely going to New York last year, I couldn't imagine not visiting the site. It is forever etched in us--in our minds and in our hearts.
A bunch of us wild girls went to New York last year for a weekend of god-knows-what. Oh yeah--that and lots of drinks. We were pumped for fun and it was a weekend to behold. I don't remember for a very long time seeing the clock at 3:00 a.m., then 4:00 a.m., and yes--5:00 a.m.! It was quite the time. There were broadway shows, ultra-hip bars, the diamond district, the Statue of Liberty, and shopping. Lots and lots of shopping. There were incredible restaurants, Times Square, Central Park, and purse dealers--everywhere. Oh! Did I happen to mention it was Fleet Week? You know--when EVERY man in uniform congregates to New York City? Like tons and tons of extremely good-looking men in every type of uniform looking for fun? Well--for us it was clean fun. Just some talking, dancing, drinking, and a cazillion photos of Cheri with all of them celebrating her 40th birthday. Geesh, it was a weekend!
Snuggled in between cocktails and shopping was our visit to the 911 memorial. Well, just the temporary one. It was located right at the subway entrance directly below where the World Trade Center Towers once stood. There wasn't much to see anymore as the hole was already being rebuilt with foundation of new buildings coming. There were fences surrounding the vicinity and construction vehicles and equipment that blocked any view of impending progress. Instead, there was a small area with photos, stories, memoirs, and lists of the names of those that perished on that sunny day in September. Lists and lists. Too many lists. It hurt my neck and my heart to see so many names on those lists. It gave reality to the great number of innocent people that died that day. It was heartbreaking.
We mulled about with many others, looking at the photos, reading the stories, and remembering that day. People were crying, others were hugging each other, and we pretty much stood there dumbfounded. I could not believe that so many years had passed, and yet we could still cry real tears. I could not look to my friends. I knew that if I did, I was a goner. I would have been there drowning in tears for the loss in all of our lives. Fortunately, I did not know anyone personally that died that day, but something in all of us died too. We lost our freedom. We lost confidence in our country to keep us safe. We lost innocence. We lost peace of mind. I stood there, looking upwards to an empty sky, wondering if we will ever be safe again.
It was a sobering visit that day in May. We took our time, said a prayer, and headed across the street to St. Paul's Cathedral. It was the very old church that survived the crashing towers and to it's doors came the rescue workers to seek relief. That, too, had a memorial inside. What an incredible experience we had. Throngs of people, in complete silence walking through the church remembering. Words do not honor enough the people who died, assissted in the rescue and clean-up, or bore witness to such horrendous events. It has imprinted me forever, and I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to pay my respects.
We talk about the events that happened with the kids--they were really young and didn't quite understand what was happening. It is weird to me that they don't remember it like I do. They know to refer to the event with somber acknowledgement, but they don't feel what I feel. They don't remember being scared or unsafe. They don't remember life before 911 when you could go to Disney and not worry about safety. They don't remember life without Osama Bin Laden. They don't remember a day when the word "terrorist" wasn't in the news daily. And they don't remember New York City without referring to 911.