You're going to see this image (or images like it) a lot today. You'll see this image, you'll see videos. You'll hear lots of people talking about it. You'll hear about people who lost everything that day. You'll hear about how the 'indomitable American spirit' picked itself back up and carried on. You'll see this image a lot today.
You might be tired of seeing this image, hearing about 9/11/2001. I'm not here to condemn you for that. It's real, the fatigue that comes with harping and digging up tragedy. It's okay. Sometimes I get tired of seeing it. Sometimes I think it's too much to keep talking about it. To keep showing those planes hurtling into those towers.
I get it. Trust me.
I want to make something clear: I was fortunate on 9/11. I was safe, my family was safe. We were in Manhattan, yes, but far uptown from the towers. I didn't have any family in the towers, or in the fire department, or the police. I didn't lose anyone that day. I'm not here to lament my sorrows about it. Not in that way, anyway.
I knew people who did lose someone, though.
What I really want to talk about is just the way we remember it.
I don't remember where Iwas when I had my first kiss.
I don't remember my first day of school.
I don't remember all the details of when I first had sex.
I don't remember my first beer.
I don't remember the first time I went to a party.
But I remember every. single. minute. of 9/11/2001.
I remember not yet being 9 years old.
I remember being it being a Tuesday.
I remember being in fourth grade. In a catholic school I wouldn't finish at.
I remember the day having barely started.
I remember the teacher getting a hushed message.
I remember the whole class filing into our basement assembly hall.
I remember how they told us that we had come under an attack.
I remember not knowing what that meant.
I remember sitting in there for what felt like forever while parents were called.
I remember my mother coming to pick me and my younger brother up from school.
We lived 8 blocks away. I remember the hustle in our walk home. I remember asking questions. I remember my mom either not knowing how to answer or just choosing not to.
I remember seeing my dad at our building's entrance, doing his best to keep residents calm, directing employees to do the things that needed doing. I remember him sending me to get batteries for the building, 'just in case'.
I remember our local grocery store being mobbed with people buying all the non-perishable items they could. I remember it being impossible to find batteries. I remember feeling bad about that.
I remember going back home empty handed, and my Dad being weirdly fine with it. I remember him telling me to go back into our apartment.
I remember seeing my mother, in tears, watching the news.
I remember being scared, and even more scared because I didn't know why I was scared.
There is a lot I don't remember about my life. I'm sure the same is true for many people. But the fact remains that I can remember way too much of this one day. And I was a fortunate one. So it is your job, all our jobs, to remember this, to hold on to this. Because where you might be tired of seeing the images replayed year after year, you only have to face it one day.