So tomorrow is the anniversary of the single most horrifying event on US soil in my lifetime. My stepfather is a WWII veteran so I know horrible things have happened throughout the history of our country, and to this day, I respect the hell out of the services veterans and current members of our military provide daily. For me though? 9/11 is the black day. I still have a hard time thinking about how blue the sky was that day. It just didn't seem right. Still doesn't. I remember sitting on my sofa, unable to really comprehend that this was really happening. I think I might have called my husband, and wondering what my daughter was doing at school. If there were televisions there, broadcasting, showing the kids those horrors. I remember wanting her at home so I could wrap my arms around her and just know that she was safe.
I remember thinking about all the children who were in those buildings, and all the children who weren't, but whose parents wouldn't be going home to wrap them in their arms that night. I think about all the mothers and fathers, husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles, girlfriends, boyfriends, etc. who were lost to their loved ones that day, and for WHAT? 3,000 souls lost to punctuate a message of hatred. I think that maybe before that day, I thought that this world just might be capable of living in peace. One day at least. Now I don't think so anymore, and it breaks my heart.
A few months after that day, our family made a short trip to NYC. I remember standing there, those deep dark holes staring up at me like the blackened eyes of a nation. The cross that still stands reaching out and somehow touching a part of my heart that was still broken and bleeding, and giving me, maybe not hope, but something I needed at the time. Something I still don't fully understand. I stood in front of the firehouse that lost every single man that day and I'm not ashamed to say I cried. Full out sobbing. I'll never forget that day either. There were others there, tourists and New Yorkers, and I don't think it was possible so soon to walk by without being touched in some way or another, even for the people who lived it every day and probably still do.
Every year since then, our family has made it a point to visit fire stations, police stations, even a short visit to the Sheriff who lives down the street to take a little box of pies, or cupcakes, or something just to say thank you. The first year, the table at the fire house was full. Dozens of people had stopped by. Over the years, fewer and fewer people made the effort. Last year, we were the only ones who stopped by. That makes me sad too. With the current wave of police loathing and hatred, I think we've forgotten the people who are always there for us. The people who have devoted their lives to keeping us safe. People who, in the scheme of things, make next to nothing for their services, but live their lives never knowing when their light will be snuffed out, whose families never quite breathe fully until their loved one is home from another shift and they can exhale at last.
Tomorrow, some of us will think about 9/11 and the sacrifices that were made, but let's remember those here at home too. Our military, the police and firefighters who do what those lost on 9/11 did that day, their jobs. Take a minute out of your day to shake their hand, tell them thank you, tell them you appreciate them. Buy a police officer a cup of coffee and a dozen Krispy Kremes or take a fire house a couple of pizzas or some cupcakes. Be that person who helps them to remember that there are still people who appreciate what they do, and remember why they do it. Let's do that something, not only to thank them for their service but to honor those never made it home.