There are two ways to lose our innocence. The first is the slow and gradual growth to maturity when old ideas begin to be replaced with new ideas. The second is when a single event forever changes the way we see the world.
Today is the 20th anniversary of September 11th. It was an ordinary day. The sky was blue and bright, a perfect early fall day. Offices, schools, and stores opened as normal. Then the first place hit the Twin Towers and everything changed.
I was in college back then, part of the younger generation. It’s amazing how fast two decades can go. Though it seems like it will take forever for the time to pass, it goes in the blink of an eye. Those of us who were young then are now adults with adult responsibilities. Some of the the kids who were too young to know what was going on or not yet born are now on the verge of adulthood themselves.
On Thursday, The Brian Lehrer Show asked listeners what the term “never forget” meant to them. What I remember is that for a brief time, the divisions that normally kept us apart disappeared. We were all Americans and we were all grieving. It was a communal loss that knew no boundaries or labels.
Last month, I visited the 9/11 Museum with a couple of friends. It was my second visit. Walking into the building is akin to a ten pound weight being thrust on your shoulders. There is an energy that is emotional, heavy, and sometimes difficult to bear. The energy of the day and the souls of the innocent people whose lives were taken that day are all around you, a solemn reminder of what was lost on that beautiful September day.
It was if nothing else, a potent reminder of how important it is to not only live while you can, but tell the ones you love how you feel before it is too late.
May the memories of the nearly 3000 people who were taken us from forever be a blessing. Z”L.
Challenging Kenneth are two surviving spouses. Charles Wolf (Stanley Tucci) lost his wife when the Twin Towers fell. A community organizer, he is continually nipping at the team’s feet, pushing them to think with their heart and not with their calculators. Karen Donato (Laura Benanti) is torn between her needs and what she is hearing from her brother-in-law.
Kenneth knows that the task he has ahead of him will be grueling, in every sense of the word. Money can never replace the ones we love. Whatever happens, he knows that he must succeed, even with the difficulties that lay before him.
This movie is riveting and powerful. Based on a true story, it is a reminder that the souls who died that day were not just names on a spreadsheet. They were human beings whose loss represent a black hole that can never be filled. It also a reminder that there is still hope in this world. Kenneth starts the film as the typical cynical bureaucrat who is just doing his job. By the end of the film, he understands the grief and heartache of those who he is trying to help.
I loved this book. Those of us above a certain age all have stories to tell about 9/11. But these stories are personal, hard hitting and may draw a few tears. I especially appreciated the interviews with the survivors who are Muslim-American or originally from South Asia. After the towers fell, it was all too easy to point the fingers at anyone who even remotely looked like those who were responsible for 9/11. It is much harder to separate those responsible from the average person of color who was just as affected by the attack as any American.
When the volunteers and first responders ran toward the still smoldering rubble that was the Twin Towers on September 11th, 2001, they were not thinking of the compensation they would later be receiving from the government or the diseases that they would be dying from. They only though of finding survivors and recovering the remains of those who did not survive.
This year is the 18th anniversary of the attack. Approximately 90,000 Americans put their lives on hold to help with the rescue and recovery effort. Nearly half of these people, numbering around 40,000 have been diagnosed with cancers that could have only come from the toxic air that was expelled from the remains of the towers.
It should, therefore be a no-brainer that these men and women (and their families by extension) are financially compensated, especially given the expensive medical bills that come with cancer.
But Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) believes otherwise. He and fellow Republican Mike Lee (R-Utah) voted against the funding. Senator Paul’s reasons for not voting for the compensation fund is as follows:
“It has long been my feeling that we need to address our massive debt in the country,” he said. “And therefore any new spending … should be offset by cutting spending that’s less valuable. We need to, at the very least, have this debate.”
There is nothing to debate. More than our thanks or our verbal support, these men and women need our financial support. While they battle cancer, they should not be worrying about being able to pay their mortgage or put food on their tables. They should only be worrying about their health and their loved ones.
From my perspective, this is just another sign that the Republicans, as a party, have forgotten who hired them and who they are responsible to. I am not saying that the Democrats are perfect, but at least I know that they are doing the jobs that the average American voter hired them to do.
When the Twin Towers fell on September 11th, 2001, those who were lucky enough the survive the falling of the towers ran from the towers with everything they had. While they ran from the smoldering ashes, the first responders ran toward the smoldering ashes. One of those first responders died today.
Detective Luis Alvarez passed away today at the young age of 53. He spent three months after 9/11 searching for survivors in the rubble. A few weeks ago, Detective Alvarez was among the first responders who testified with Jon Stewart to remind Congress of their responsibility to extend the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.
Detective Alvarez is a hero in every sense of the word. A hero is defined (at least in my book), as someone who acts in the interests of others. Putting everything else on hold (his health included), he was one of many who acted in the interest of the city and the survivors.
There are certain events in history that are ingrained in our overall cultural memory. Those who were alive at that moment can easily recall where they where when that moment occurred and how it changed their life.
Tuesday is the 17th anniversary of 9/11.
My office is very close to where the Twin Towers once stood. Today, Lower Manhattan is as bustling and alive as it ever was. But it’s not hard to see that the scars of 9/11. While the Oculus is a beautiful building, anyone who enters or exits the building is aware that it is built on the ashes of the Twin Towers and those whose lives were lost on September 11, 2001.
May the lives of those lost that day be a blessing to us all and may we remember to love and appreciate the person next to us, even if they are different or if we disagree with them. If nothing else, 9/11 is a reminder of our shared humanity and at the end of day, we are our brothers and sisters keeper.
Life, as we know, it to be is precarious. We never know when we will meet our maker.
I work very close to where the Twin Towers once stood. As I got up this morning and prepared for the day, I couldn’t help but think of the nearly 3000 people who woke up on September 11th, 2001, not knowing that it was to be their last day on Earth.
As I got off the train, my eyes could not help but look upward and remember what was there 16 years ago and how the world will never be the same. Even though it has been more than a dozen years, the grief and the pain will never truly fade.
May the memories of those killed, both on 9/11 and during the recovery in the days after be a blessing to those who knew them and loved them, and to all of us. Z”l
Since the beginning of time, human beings have tried to explain what happens after we die.
In the wake of the attack on September 11th,2001, the loved ones of the victims tried to pick themselves up and move on. While their loves ones were gone physically, some reported seeing them in spirit.
Bonnie McEneaney is a 9/11 widow. Her husband, Eamon McEneaney was one of the hundreds of Cantor Fitzgerald employees who lost their lives that day. After her husband’s death, she began to see signs that he was still around. In her 2011 book, Messages: Signs, Visits, and Premonitions from Loved Ones Lost on 9/11, Mrs. McEneaney reports that her husband’s spirit still lingered. In writing this book, she discovered that she was not the only who experienced this phenomena. Interviewing spouses, friends and family members of other 9/11 victims, Mrs. McEneaney reports that they too believed that their loved ones were still around, if only in spirit.
This book is amazing. I had chills reading this book. I also needed quite a few tissues. What makes this book stand out is that it proves that there is life after death and there is recovery after tragedy. Our loved ones maybe gone physically, but in one way or another, their spirits and the imprint their lives left on us remain.
Museums are supposed to be educational and illuminating. That does not mean that they cannot be engaging. Or that they can’t induce tears.
A little more than ten years after September 11th, 2001, the 9/11 Memorial Museum opened to the public. Built on the site of the Twin Towers, the museum is a living memorial to the victims of both the September 11th attacks and the attack in 1993. Containing artifacts from the ruins, multimedia installations, pictures of the victims and the everyday of objects belonging to those who survived and/or perished, this museum stands out among the museums in New York City.
Walking into this museum is like walking into a time capsule. It is also like walking in a tomb. While there are parts of the exhibit that are heartbreaking, there are also parts that remind us that life does go on and while we will never forget, we can heal.
I absolutely recommend it, for both locals and visitors.
The museum is located at 180 Greenwich St in New York City.