I was up earlier than usual that day, feeling reasonably peppy and up for some exercise. Hurriedly finishing my first cup of coffee, I laced up my sneakers, zipped my hoodie and headed outside for a run. It was pitch black and the sky was studded with twinkling stars. I inhaled the crisp September air and started to compile my mental checklist of what was on tap for this Tuesday, September 11. Drop off the kids a few minutes early, I reminded myself. Gotta get to work in time for an 8:30 meeting.
The streets were quiet, most houses dark with slumber. I jogged up and down the hills of my neighborhood to the beat of Bruce Springsteen in my headphones. As the sun began to rise, I reached the last leg and chugged toward home. My neighbor’s son stood on the corner waiting for the school bus. “Hey Ben!” I called out to him. He waved.
Aren’t we all reliving that day, September 11, 2001, and don’t we remember every tiny detail? The day that began like any other. A normal Tuesday morning, distinguished perhaps by the vivid blue sky. Normalcy turned into something too awful to have ever imagined. The disbelief that a plane, no, four planes, could be used to attack our country. The confusion, panic, not knowing if my city, Philadelphia, was next to be attacked. The surreality of a traffic jam in mid-morning as office buildings emptied with horrified Americans desperate to get home, to pick up their kids, be with their families. Looking up at that cloudless sky, so deeply blue, now devoid of planes. Glued to the TV, unable to do much of anything else, except cry.
I was in the midst of that 8:30 meeting. A colleague sat in my office. We heard a commotion out by the secretaries’ station. Someone had called with the news. Dumbfounded, we all rushed into a conference room and turned on the television, just in time to see the second plane crash into the south tower of the World Trade Center. Life changed forever for all of us that instant.
Today, ten years later, we remember this achingly sad day. Our country’s pain has not dulled, not really. That terrible day is so fresh in our memory, could ten years really have elapsed since then?
We grieve for the innocent men, women and children who lost their lives that day. We grieve for the families whose suffering will never end, the children who are growing up without the love of a parent, the parents whose children never came home.
We will never forget. Not ten years later. Not ever.