I suppose the first memory that we share of September 11, 2001, was that it was an absolutely gorgeous day.
I always felt that September, especially in New York, was the best month of the year weather-wise.
Of course, as a child, September always represented the end of summer and the beginning of the school year. But in terms of the weather, it always seemed to contain beautiful summer days with a twist of autumn in the air.
Other memories that we share of this date are not so joyful but extremely memorable.
We remember where we were.
We remember whom we were with.
We remember when we heard that a plane flew into one of the towers of the World Trade Center, and many of us thought (Hoped? Prayed?) that it was a small plane whose pilot had lost consciousness, etc.
The thing that I remember most is watching the news on a small television in one of my Associate Director’s office and seeing the plumes of smoke and bronze flames coming out of both towers, as by now the second tower had been struck and all delusions that we were not under attack were finally put to rest.
I remember as the entire office watched, and I said, “One thing you have to say is that the engineers who built them knew what they were doing because the towers are still standing.”
A few seconds later, the first tower fell, and I stopped watching for a while.
In the days that followed, the entire nation seemed to be united.
We weren’t thinking of hanging chads or the 2000 election that was so close and that Al Gore reluctantly conceded out of a concern for national unity.
We appeared on September 11, 2001, to be living up to E Pluribus Unum.
We were behind our President, and even the Mayor of New York became America’s Mayor as his calm demeanor in delivering updates seemed to serve as a balm on the open wounds of the terrorist attack.
The feeling of oneness didn’t last long, and twenty years later, it seems hard to imagine that so many feel so alienated and despised that the nation that saved the world and ushered in the era of exploring new worlds can no longer save itself.
Twenty years ago, acts of terror brought us together, while today, a vaccine and a mask threaten to divide us.
Remember what you were doing on 9/11 and pray for the survivors and the families of the fallen.