Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What Happens To Us

A young man we met in Williamsburg, Brooklyn near the end of our 2011 journey offered up an interesting bit of insight regarding the attacks on the World Trade Center. 'Someday,' he said, '9/11 will go from something that happened to us to something that happened.' Twelve years removed from that day we are seeing this already, in the reflection of our children's eyes.

I took my two young boys to a memorial vigil this evening, at the fire house here in our new hometown of East Northport, New York. At six years old, my older son could understand the reason we were all there though it will be a while before he grasps things on a more conceptual level. My three-year-old was only interested in the fire trucks and the huge American flag hung between them and the cookies they were serving afterwards.

Many of the others holding candles were not yet born, or were too young to recall much if anything about that day. For them, as much as for us, we remember.

Particularly moving about tonight's service was the reading of the names of the victims of 9/11 (a few of whom lived here). Several people in attendance - maybe twelve, maybe twenty - had been given lists of names of those lost; during the service they began, all at once, reading those names. To close your eyes and listen would be to feel as though these people were all around, alive for a moment as their names flooded your ears. Then one by one those reading reached the end of their lists, and their voices, and the names they spoke, disappeared into the night.

My sons will never know any of those who perished in New York or Washington, DC or Shanksville, Pennsylvania. But they will, as long as we continue to remember together, know that September 11, 2001 was a dark day in America. And understand that, on a human level, 9/11 happened to all of us.