Two decades ago . . .

Over the past 20 years I have written many times about the events of September 11, 2001, and about feelings and my memories of that day. There is no need to write more. Twenty years is a long time; and still today the stark reality of what occurred that day is as sharp and as painful as ever. Today, I will spend some time remembering, as so many of us will. It is one of those life events that simply cannot be set aside.

Whether we would choose to or not, we who lived through the hours of 9-11, and the long days that followed, can never forget. So, today, as I gather with new friends to commemorate the loss and the sacrifices of that day, I thought I would repost just one piece from the past. As the note at the end explains, it was prompted by the reaction of a then-11-year-old boy who was upset by a morning radio report. I wanted to give him some comfort and some hope at the time. I can only hope it did, and that, in some small way, it might comfort others as well.

Here, then, with just a couple of changes, is what I wrote on September 11, 2019:

Dear Children:

Posted on September 11, 2019 by Adrienne Cohen

Some days are just not like all the rest. They can be different from all others for just one person, for a family, for a whole country, and sometimes for the whole world. Days worth remembering can be happy days or they can be sad days.

Often, good things happen even on sad days.

On September 11, 2001, something terrible happened in New York City. Two skyscrapers were destroyed; two separate airplanes flew into the buildings. People in New York watched in horror. Others around the country, even in other countries, watched via television, and were stunned.

You have probably heard people say, “Never forget.” On the world’s clock 18 years ago, time stopped for some people. The details aren’t quite as important as the feelings and the memories that people have of that day. It started much like any other, with families waking up, having breakfast, and getting ready to go to work, or to school, to take a trip, or to have fun with friends.

But then it all changed — and it changed very quickly from a normal day to one that would be remembered in a very different way. In New York City, and in Washington, D.C., and in a field in Pennsylvania, four separate airplanes crashed, three of them into buildings filled with people. Many people in those planes and in those buildings died.

It was, and it still is, a very sad day.

Never Forget

Your parents and grandparents, and the parents and grandparents of your friends who lived through that day and the weeks that followed have many different reasons for wanting to remember. Some want to honor friends and family members. Others want our country to remember, so that nothing like this will have to happen again. Some look at the day as a piece of history that ought to be studied. Nothing quite like it had ever happened before.

It was a sad day. But it was also a time when many strangers helped and hugged one another, and when an entire city, a whole country, and most of the world came together in shock and sadness, and almost immediately began to take steps that would prevent something similar from happening again.

If you feel like crying today as you hear some of the stories, or if you don’t understand why all adults can’t just agree that it’s over and move on, or if it makes you afraid in some secret place in your head that something bad might happen to you, know that you are not alone. Adults sometimes feel all those things too. Everyone does! 

The truth is that people sometimes act badly, and life can be cruel. But more often, when truly terrible things happen, most people react differently; they act in really good ways. They try hard to keep others safe and to make them feel better. That is exactly what happened on this day 18 years ago. Some very normal people almost became superheroes on that day.

The adults who lived through 9-11 are getting older now. But their children, and the children whose fathers or mothers, aunts and uncles, grandparents, neighbors and friends were hurt or killed on 9-11, are growing up, and they continue to help other people and to help mend the world in ways they might not have done otherwise.

That’s what we should remember. So, when you hear those words, “Never forget,” know that sadness has another side, and hope and goodness really do exist.

Always.

It’s okay to remember the sadness of 9-11, but we can all go on, working to make all tomorrows better, brighter and happier for us all. That’s exactly what we need to do now. We need to go on and work hard to make tomorrow not only different, but better and brighter for everyone.

Note:  What prompted this? I  heard this morning from my grandson’s mother that he had a “pretty emotional reaction” to a morning radio show mention of losing friends on 9-11. She also noted that her memory of that day centers on morality and resiliency, and that she would share this video with him. I’ll share it too, for anyone else who needs something inspiring and uplifting today. 

Read the original post here.

9-11-2001: Years removed in time, but etched indelibly into our psyche . . .

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?

9-11-2001

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.