Friday, September 11, 2009
Eight years ago
Eight years ago, Vivian was trying hard to take calls but she couldn't concentrate. Her brother was a supervisor in one of the mailrooms in the south tower of the World Trade center. It took me awhile to clear it for her, but we managed to send her home to try and connect with her family in NY... at 11 a.m. Her brother, amazingly enough, had had jury duty in Brooklyn that morning and was out of harms way.
Eight years ago, my friend Fred was doing what he does, taking care of people, when he and another man formed a "hand chair" to carry a woman down 7 flights in the north tower and get her out safely. He received a commendation from Giuliani.
Eight years ago, my friend Grace fretted when she heard her husband's company was going south into the city to aid with the recovery near the WTC. She didn't hear from him for 18 hours. In all the work and confusion, he was treated for smoke inhalation in a midtown hospital, separated from the rest of his company. The hospital tried to reach her in the first four hours after his arrival, but all the circuits were busy and they couldn't get through. Her relief when he was able to reach her was palpable.
All three of my WTC "connections" lived. I was one of the lucky ones. To this day, whenever the anniversary arrives, I need some time by myself to think about how much of an impact that day had on me, on all of us. I have never quite had the same amount of trust in mankind.
Why do we pull the memory of 9/11 out of a box once a year, as a nation, and run our fingers over it? Not to advance the story. Not to deepen our understanding. But to keep the memory accessible. To make sure we know where it is. To remember where we were that day. To trigger little details that might be lost forever if we don’t touch them again this year.