This past Friday was the 19th anniversary of 9/11. A sparklingly brilliant late summer northeastern day which turned tragic early. That terrible, awful day that ripped us apart, stole husbands and fathers, mothers and daughters from their families prematurely and in so doing brought us together in a way I’ve not seen before, or since, in this country. I remember reading or hearing, I can’t remember which, an article or television commentator who said in the days that followed something to the effect of “they attempted to divide us and only united us.”
As a business traveler who took to the skies nearly every week at the time and the son of a frequent business traveler who was supposed to be flying to California from Boston on that day, 9/11 shook me hard. It struck where I lived. Fortunately for both of us, neither of us were in the air that day. I had flown on 9/10 and my father had changed his morning flight to later that day and, while we didn’t know exactly where he was and if he’d been on one of the planes for several hours, he was also safe and spared. Those hours were nerve wracking and terrifying. It could have been worse, for us.
The immediate aftermath united this country and, seemingly, most of the world in love, caring, sadness, anger, fear and in the hope that good would prevail. American flags appeared everywhere you turned. The skies were silent for several days as not a plane took flight. Fear lurked, we didn’t know if the mail was safe or when the next attack would come or from where it would commence. But. People were kinder to one another, helped each other and heroes poured into the sites of the attacks to try to help however they could. Our President and politicians sought to unite us and help heal our pain.
It didn’t last forever, or even for long, but united we stood in solidarity with so many around this beautiful and complicated world. On the anniversaries of that terrible day, we always pause to remember those we lost. To remember how we felt. To somewhat masochistically watch original coverage of the events as an act of remembrance when we can find it. To cry and hope for better days to come.