Fifteen years: It’s the span from birth to teenager; young adult to middle age; active working adult to “old.”
It’s difficult to look 15 years into the future with any degree of accuracy, but looking back takes little effort. And, in some cases, 15 years — or 50, or only two — disappear in an instant and we, in our minds, are returned to a time so hard to comprehend, so impossible to understand, so devastatingly brutal in memory that it brings us up short. The best we can do is retreat into our own silence, finding what solace exists with the passage of time.
Today is one of those days.
Fifteen years ago on a clear morning full of promise, the world was forever changed. For those of us old enough at the time to be aware of what happened in our world, it is a moment, a day, an era still frozen in time. There are other such days for many of us; actually, there are too many of those moments for some of us.
On days like this one, at a specific hour, whether the flag is lowered to half staff or we observe a moment of silence, whether there is a public ceremony or not, we cannot help but take a deep breath, suffer feelings of deep regret, and remember. Sadly, the list of those remembrances grows longer.
It is said that adversity make us strong. I wonder.
It is said that we must learn from the past. I am not certain we ever do.
It is said that we must not allow such things to happen again. Is that possible?
Fifteen years ago.
Yes. I remember.
But I also remember other things about that day.
I recall standing silently with a group of coworkers, tears streaming down our cheeks, eyes trained on the television. I remember the need to talk with distant family members, to hear the voices of loved ones even though there were no words to soften the blow of that day. I remember the anguished — and accented — question of a recent immigrant: “How could they do this to our country?”
I have to think that Americans were one on that day, united in shock, and determined to face an uncertain future together.
Today, 15 years later, that oneness is no longer evident.
I wonder why we as a people are always at our best in crisis?
Actually, maybe that is the hope we should cling to.
No matter what our differences, no matter how much we disagree on most days — in thought and action and the ongoing exercise of our freedoms — maybe we can once again stand together when the next crisis occurs.
Not that I look forward to that day.
Also read my thoughts about a chance encounter on 9-11-2014.