Friday, September 11, 2009

Have You Forgotten?

This rain.

It was torrential through the night, and into this morning, a fitting backdrop for remembering 9/11.

All day, the windows where I sat here in my family room, working from home, reflected a gloominess and a somber tone that seemed all too appropriate.

There have been 9/11 anniversaries bathed in blue skies, eerily reminiscent of that day 8 years ago. But if it was up to me, I would make every 9/11 look like the day in the photo I took above. (Which, you'll notice, is not from today, but it might as well have been ... plus it seems to be symbolic of the Twin Towers.)

Besides the birth of Betty and Boo, and the death of my father, 9/11 remains the seminal, defining moment of my life. It transcends everything else. It had a searing effect on me for many, many reasons.

This is hard to explain to people who don't get it. People like a psychologist I was once in conversation with, re-telling the story of how Betty and Boo became to be, trying to explain in that context how 9/11 was connected. (Too long of a story to go into here ... you're just going to have to buy the book.

(Kidding .... )

"Did you know someone who died that day?" the psychologist asked me.


"Or someone who was in New York, or directly affected?"

Weren't we all directly affected? I wanted to scream. Weren't you? And if not, why not? And how?

What I've come to realize over the past eight years is that one of the resulting tragedies (among many) is that some people have, in fact, forgotten. We remember on the anniversaries, but how many of us remember in our day-to-day lives?

On my daily commutes, I drive by two airports - one a major metropolitan one, the other a more regional type. Every day, I watch planes taking off and landing and as I do, I remember the people on those planes eight years ago. They are always there, just as they were on the first panic-attacked flight I took not even three months post-9/11, a halfway across the country journey that I spent sobbing from the very moment I found my seat until the moment we landed. I remember the other passengers looking at me, confused, puzzled, unaware. Like how the psychologist looked at me several years hence.

I wondered what this anniversary would look like, how the world would recognize a year trapped between mile markers. It sounds kind of weird, almost morbid, but I was hoping to see what I saw today - people changing their Facebook profile photos in remembrance, people coming together online to remember in blog posts, in status updates, sharing links.

I needed to see this, proof that others remembered too. And I did.

We need to remember 9/11, not just on 9/11 but on each of the other 364 days of the year. We need to remember the people who died, the people still living from the fallout, the people who have given their lives since in this new war against terror. We need to remember New York, and Shanksville, and the Pentagon.

We need this rain.

Have you forgotten, how it felt that day?
To see your homeland under fire
And her people blown away
Have you forgotten when those towers fell
We had neighbors still inside goin' through a livin' hell
And we vow to get the ones behind Bin Laden
Have you forgotten?
I've been there with the soldiers
Who've gone away to war
you can bet they remember just what they're fightin' for
Have you forgotten
All the people killed
Yes some went down like heroes
In that Pennsylvania field
Have you forgotten
About our Pentagon
All the loved ones that we lost
And those left to carry on
Don't you tell me not to worry 'bout Bin Laden
Have you forgotten?

- "Have You Forgotten?" sung by Darryl Worley


Belle said...

This is a beautiful post. I've been finding it hard to put my thoughts into words today, so thank you for saying it so perfectly.

Book Dragon said...

I have a 9/11 post on my blog but you said it so much better. Thanks.

Beth Kephart said...

Yesterday was the right weather for the day, and I agree that it will always live and always affect us all deeply. thanks for a great post.

Lis Garrett said...

Nicely written.

For the first year of many anniversaries, we, too, had rain. And you're right; it's fitting.

We have a photo-journalism book of 9/11 that my son takes off the shelf from time to time. We (my three kids and I) talked about what happened again yesterday morning - I always end up crying. My two older kids (10, and 8 next month) are just beginning to understand why it was so sad for so many people.

I didn't know anyone directly affected. But like you said, it affects us all in one way or another. And I remember whenever I drive past our airport or my husband leaves on a business trip. And I certainly remembered when I sent my daughter on her first Trans-Atlantic flight over the summer to see family in Ireland. As a parent, letting her get on that flight was one of the hardest things I've ever done.

Niksmom said...

Beautiful post. I'm appalled at the psychologist's attempts to minimize your trauma of the event; we were all affected in ways we may not even realize.

Sending warm thoughts today.

Gershwoman said...

I remember everytime I see a plane flying low in the sky - which is often, since we have a small airport and a major air force base not far from us.

DemMom said...

The Bug asked about the pictures on TV and the newspaper, of American flags, people crying etc. We explained to her, in the way you explain to a 5 year old. I think I felt it all over again more this year, listening to her learn about it, than I had in a while. And of course, when I think about that day (as everyone does on the anniversary), you're a huge part of that memory.