21 years later...
It has been in this house for nearly 21 years.
It will come with me to the new house.
It will never leave my possession.
It will never be far from my thoughts.
An old plastic film canister, filled with dust.
Dust that was all that remained after that day.
That day, 21 years ago today.
The day seared into our minds and our hearts.
September 11, 2001...
No-one alive on that day will ever forget the events of that morning:
- At 8:46 a.m., AA 11 slammed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
- At 9:03 a.m., UA175 slammed into the South Tower.
- At 9:37 a.m., AA77 crashed into the Pentagon's west side.
- At 9:59 a.m., the South Tower imploded and fell, raining debris and ash on the city.
- At 10:03 a.m., UA93 crashed into a field in the Pennsylvania countryside.
- And at 10:29 a.m., the North Tower collapsed from the top down. A cloud of ash turned day to night in the narrow streets of lower Manhattan.
In those terrible moments between 8:46 a.m. and 10:29 a.m., nearly 3,000 men, women and children lost their lives to senseless, mindless, blind hatred. So many people -- among them my neighbors, my colleagues, my friends -- wiped from the face of the earth.
The youngest was two. The oldest was 85.
Some died in an instantaneous blinding flash they never saw coming. Others had long agonizing moments in which to choose to burn... or to jump.
Most were Americans. Many were not. They were black, white, brown, Asian. They were of all faiths, all creeds.
And they all died -- every last man, woman and child of them -- because of a hatred-born conviction that somehow the world would be what the haters wanted if innocents perished.
I can do nothing about that kind of hatred. The kind that says “those who don't agree don't deserve to live.” The kind that says “my convenience is more important than your life.”
So I will put that aside, again, and focus instead on what I must do.
I must, once again, keep my promise.
The one I made as I walked through the streets of lower Manhattan on a September day 21 years ago, and stared at the posters with the faces of the missing, and at the empty firehouses, and at the twisted steel girders -- and as I collected that dust in that old plastic film container.
I promised that I would remember.
It's time now to fulfill that promise for this year. Time again to remember. Time again to open the film canister into which I brushed some of the dust of Ground Zero, time again to touch that dust with my own hands, time again to stand witness to what that kind of hatred has done, and ... perhaps ... time to warn against what it still can do.
To make sure that I do not forget.
That we do not forget.
That no-one forgets.
That all those lives will never be forgotten.
To say, one more time, this year and every year, as long as I have life and breath, in words and images, NEVER FORGET.