Today is a day of remembrance of the nearly 3,000 Americans who died on September 11, 2001 including 343 firefighters and 71 police officers. People who woke up that morning to go to work as if it was any other day. A day very much like today as we are all waking up and beginning our days. Families who couldn’t imagine the pain they were about to experience. A nation that couldn’t imagine how it would change that morning. I’ll never forget the images of first responders running into those buildings as people were running to escape. True American heroes who can never be honored enough.
My son, daughter and I were living in Las Vegas on September 11, 2001. I woke up that morning, went to my kitchen, made coffee and turned on the TV news like I did every morning. It was to be a typical day as a single dad, get my kids up, dressed, off to school and myself to work. Only this morning was not like every other morning. With the three hour time difference I turned on the TV news just in time to see the second plane hit. I remember standing in my kitchen not believing what I had just witnessed. My kids, aged 11 and 8 at the time stood and watched the horror with me. I’ll never forget the words of my then 8-year old daughter “Daddy why do bad people want to hurt us?”. I didn’t have an answer. I still don’t.
In 2003 we relocated back to New Jersey and in 2004 I was working in New York. I learned that you could never fully understand the impact on New Yorkers until you were there with them. Three years after the attacks the city was still nervous. The people of New York were still in mourning. I remember being in my office on 5th Avenue when someone left a gym bag outside on the sidewalk. Our building went into lock down while police and fire responded. The fear of people in that building was something that I had never experienced – over a gym bag left on a sidewalk.
I met many people in New York who had lost love ones on 9/11. One story in particular will stay with me forever. A woman told me that her brother in-law had jumped from the building. She said to me “Imagine the decision he made standing on that ledge. Die from the fire or die from jumping. He chose to jump.”. Emotionally I was experiencing 9/11 for the very first time 3-years later being with New Yorkers who were still experiencing the pain they’d feel forever.
Here we are 17-years later. I turned on the TV news this morning while I was taking a shower and there was no mention of 9/11. Over an hour later I am still waiting for mention of the 9/11 attacks. Today is starting like any other day much the same as it did 17 years ago. Seventeen years ago we as a nation said we’d never forget yet we seem to have forgotten. An entire generation is approaching adulthood who were not even alive on September 11, 2001. We are not honoring those Americans who lost their lives and lost loved ones like we promised we always would.
Please whatever you are doing this morning at 8:46 AM stop and remember those who on September 11, 2001 were likely doing the same things you will be doing this morning. Walking to their offices. Getting their morning coffee. Greeting co-workers. Police officers and Firefighters working their normal tours. Loved ones expecting that their husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters would be home that evening. Remind your children that we must never forget. Let’s keep the promise we made in 2001 to never forget.