As I stood behind one of the kindergarten classes, I smiled at the "oohs" and "aahs" as they craned their necks skyward to watch the Boy Scout Troop raise the flag. Their excited chatter over seeing the flag unfurl was charming and quite a contrast to the group of police officers, fireman and other enforcement officers standing to my right, tall and straight, arms raised in quiet salute.
If you think about it, none of the children at the school were alive in 2001. (B, born in 2005 is in 4th grade. Assuming the 6th graders are 2 or 3 years older than her, they would have been born in 2002 or later.) While so many of us know where we were on that particular day, our children wonder what this day is all about.
I remember this day in 2001, 13 years ago. I was driving to my job "over the hill", from Canoga Park to Beverly Hills. I had worked there just 4 months and was still learning my way around and getting to know the people I worked with. I don't remember what time I got in my car, but as usual, I turned the radio to "Jamie and Danny" on Star 98 (or maybe it was still "Jaime, Frosty and Frank" at the time?) as I hit the road. I clearly remember Jamie, close to tears and with a tremor in her voice, saying "we still don't know what really happened, but we want you to know that we love you guys." She was talking to the listeners. I switched the channel to Kevin & Bean, to find just Money and "Doc on the Roc" on, giving updates on the situation in New York. I was stunned. I don't remember much of what I heard on the radio over the course of my 45 minute drive, but I remember quietly crying and wondering what was next. When I got to the office, my coworkers were quietly walking around, seemingly dazed. Through huddled conversations with others, I learned that one of the partners had a daughter living in New York City and he had not been able to get in touch with her. (He was finally able to reach her and she was fine.) As it became apparent that no work would be done, the partners gave us the option of going home. Wanting to be with other people, rather than alone in my apartment, I headed to Rob's parents' house in Northridge. I spent the day on their couch, watching the news stations.
Over the next few weeks, the horror of what happened that day continued to unfold and the uncertainty of our future with it. Would there be other attacks? Should we begin to stockpile food and water? Would our lives as we know it change drastically? For us, life went back to much the same as it was before, albeit with a few more hugs, a few more "I love you!"s called as we walked out the door, and a bit more patriotism. But for others, their lives were irreversibly changed, forever marked by this day.
Having walked near the footprints of those buildings just two months ago, I marvel at the strength of New York City and its people. While I'm sure many continue their daily lives in quiet remembrance of a friend or family member lost, of the horrors of that day, the simple fact is that they continue their lives. They have not let this day get the best of them.
When we note this day, we remember the lives lost, the victims and the heroes, the first responders and all who helped in some way, whether it was in New York, Washington DC or that field in Pennsylvania. We remember the swell of patriotism and the renewed spirit of the Country. We hope. We hope for a time without worry of these types of attacks. We hope to never have to experience anything like this again. We hope that our children do not have to live through anything like that. And we thank G-d. For our lives, for our family, for our country.