Seventeen years ago, the date September 11th had no special meaning. It was my boss’ birthday, but other than that, until mid-morning on September 11, 2001, it was an ordinary day.
How hard it is to learn that ordinary days are marvellous, undeserved blessings.
Subsequent to the evil, hateful, murderous terrorist attacks of that morning—one I remember finding particularly beautiful while heading to work—September 11, and the days leading up to it and those following, have been very somber for me. There is a true pall over it, one that, almost unexamined, prompts me to wear all black, something I only do when mourning the loss of a loved one. But of course I love my country, too, and she was cruelly wounded that day. So many people lost someone they loved, representing just about every walk of life in this nation; some of the stories, I still recall with grieved clarity, and pray for the survivors. I don’t go wall-to-wall with mourning (perhaps we should? Or is prayerfully, thoughtfully going about our daily business, remembering the clarity with which evil expressed itself that day—which, in honesty, is pretty much what I do—a better tribute?), but you’ll never see me at a party or cheery get-together of any sort on September 11. It would feel disrespectful, callous, unserious.
Of course, we live in unserious times—odd many times over, after such an event and its brethren in Paris and London and Mumbai and on and on.
Just thinking about that day—about the horrified, primal screams—screams—emitted by the ABC newsman, a grown adult man, talking to my local affiliate as the second plane hit the second tower, about those towers sliding down against that still bizarrely beautiful blue sky, with so many lives still fighting within them—a pit forms in my stomach, a lump blocks my throat, and tears sting the backs of my eyes. I think for many of us, September 11 was a formative day, no matter our age. So it would only make sense, I think, for the anniversary of that day to affect us deeply.
Is this day different for you, in any way? Truly, there is no judgment here; I’m honestly curious as to how September 11 affects others. Some may wish to do all they can to ignore the grief hanging over the day, because of all the pain it brings; alas, perhaps some of you cannot at all, having had a loved one murdered in New York or Pennsylvania or DC. Again; I’m just curious as to how other Americans mark the day, if at all.