Eight Years Later...
The weather forecast for today, September 11, 2009, is for rain. And I find myself relieved that it is so. On this day of all days of the year, I cannot bear to open my eyes to a day of bright sunshine and the crisp clear blue skies that make September such a joy in the New York metropolitan area.
I cannot bear it because that's what it was like on this day eight years ago. That September day... September 11, 2001... And the memory of that day remains too strong, too raw, even now... eight years later.
The events of September 11, 2001, were fast-paced and horrific:
- 8:46 a.m. - AA 11 crashed into the World Trade Center north tower.
- 9:03 a.m. - UA 175 crashed into the World Trade Center south tower.
- 9:37 a.m. - AA 77 crashed into the Pentagon's west side.
- 9:59 a.m. - The south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.
- 10:03 a.m. - UA 93 crashed into a field in the Pennsylvania countryside.
- 10:29 a.m. - The north tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.
And 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. The oldest: age 85. The youngest: age two. And that's not all. Many of the first responders and workers at Ground Zero have contracted serious illnesses from their exposure to toxic fumes. Some have died. More undoubtedly will. It simply boggles the mind, no matter how you look at it. There were -- there continue to be -- so many losses...
And so for eight solid years, I have been angry... so very angry. On the first anniversary, I wrote: "We have not brought those responsible for the attacks to justice; it appears less and less likely each day that we ever will." On the third anniversary, I added: "And those responsible are still out there. It is simply inconceivable to me that, with all the vast resources of this country, Osama bin Laden is still out there. I was trained as a lawyer and as a prosecutor. I believe in justice and I believe deeply in the rule of law. And I want those who committed these acts brought to account for what they did." Yet here we are, eight years after September 11, 2001, and those responsible have still not been brought to justice, they have still not been forced to account for what they did.
There are, at least, some hopeful signs now, eight years later. We have a new President now, one who never sent us to war against people who had nothing to do with 9/11, one who never tried to convince us to trade our freedoms for some illusion of security, one who actually chose a Director of Federal Emergency Management who is an expert in emergency management. Torture is out. Dissent is in, and nobody calls the dissenters traitors or unpatriotic. We are taking baby steps back to being the country we should be, and in many ways the country we were, before September 11. And that may be the best we can do for those who died that terrible day.
For now, as each year in the past, it is time for remembrance. It is time again to do what I swore I would do in the moments before the sun set that Tuesday eight years ago. It is time again to open the film cannister into which I brushed some of the dust of Ground Zero, time again to touch it with my own hands, and time again to stand witness. To make sure that I do not forget. That we do not forget. That no-one forgets. That nearly 3,000 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.