Ho-hum, another year, another September 11th. But not for me nor for thousands others; it never will be “just another day”, a day to yawningly pull clothes from the closet to wear to work, a day to stop by the local 7-Eleven for a cup of Joe, a day to follow the masses on the daily commute to work, a day to check the emails at work, a day to think-outside-the-box.
Yesterday, I caught myself thinking about September 11th – and it took me a just a wee bit off my game (for which I apologize to those for whom I didn’t return calls and emails). It was only a few days ago that the requisite articles began to appear in the local papers, articles that speak to memorials, to families, to how the carnage that day in New York, DC and Pennsylvania changed how people’s outlooks on life were forever altered.
I’m thinking about not just the nearly 3,000 people murdered that day but also the number of rescue workers who toiled on the pile breathing in carcinogens that the EPA and related agencies have termed as having little impact on cancer rates.
I’m thinking about the families that have been split by money. Family relationships that were once cohesive are now caustic. The money graciously donated by Americans has led to even more casualties – emotional ones – where families have now been split by a combination of pain and avarice.
According to an article in today’s New York Times, the difficult task of “balancing” (I don’t like this word but to most it is a balance) the “healing process” (an even more bothersome phrase in the same vein as “strategic business partner”) has been handled by Mayor Bloomberg “…sometimes clumsily and sometimes with great sensitivity and eloquence.” That’s how – I believe – most people think and act when it comes to 9/11; how to “never forget” without coming across as crass and insensitive. New Yawkahs, no matter what they might say outwardly, still stiffen at low flying planes and loud noises; any insensitivity turns into reality in the shadows of current events such as the steam pipe explosion a few weeks back or the fire at the hulking structure of what was once the Deutsche Bank building where two more firefighters died and two more were injured.
“Never Forget”, that eponymous saying that adorns many automobiles’ rear windows in our area, implies – to me at least – the concept of never forgetting the events of six years ago. I would still be thinking this way until several months ago when I lost two dear family members. What has helped me is “Always Remember”…
I remember several good friends who were murdered that day and the joy they brought to my life, and the unbridled laughter that always ensued when we were together.
I remember the thousands of people who faithfully toiled on the pile each day because they believed it was their duty as human beings to do so. I have a special place in my heart for every rescue worker who risked their lives – and continue to die each day, more casualties of 9/11 – slogging through horribly carcinogenic conditions because they had to be there.
I have come to know many people who were lost on 9/11 whose stories have been told by their families – funny and poignant tales of how these people lived. I will always remember these people.
I remember family members who turned their grief into action, creating foundations that continue to assist those in need while pushing for needed legislation.
I remember the day when my friend Marian Fontana sprinkled her husband’s ashes into a very stiff wind down at Jones Beach, her son commenting, “Look Mommy, Daddy’s all over you just like when he was alive.” Marian’s going to re-marry next year and I can’t wait to throw her a bachelorette party.
And I remember Alex Urbane, one of the most talented software developers I have ever known, who had two companies vying for his services back in mid-2001. One was with a company that I was building, the other with a company in the North Tower. I suppose I did a “better” job than their recruiter of convincing him to come with me. After the Towers fell, Alex came to me and said, “Dude, you saved my life.”
How could I not remember?