Thursday, September 11, 2014

Never Forget

Part of our home school today was watching 9/11: Stories in Fragments, a documentary on Netflix about fragments of 9/11 being displayed in the Smithsonian.  These memories are all my kids will ever fully remember of that Tuesday aside from seeing their Momma grieve every year. When we finished the documentary, I did what I have done for years:  Alone, I slid into my work chair, pulled up Youtube on the computer and watched live footage from 2001 and remembered. I don't want to forget. Ever.  

I watch the videos every year.  I don't know why I watch them with such intensity and I can't successfully verbalize what I feel when I see them. Being relatively prolific, that is an odd feeling for me. I watch people jump or fall to their death from the seemingly impossible heights of The Towers (they should be capitalized in my mind) and year after year my heart feels weighted, tears make tracks down my face, drip off my chin and I ask myself what must they have been enduring to choose to jump from those towering buildings of human achievement...surrounded by very real human evil. 

The towers represent both of those things in my mind, by the way. What great things man can achieve and construct when humans incline ourselves to the work of greatness! Equally, what horrors we humans can achieve when we bend ourselves toward the destruction of others!

I think of the families, the loved ones, of the passengers on those four, fuel charged planes. I think of the firemen, policemen, servicemen who died because someone needed help. I can only imagine what kind of person is willing to answer the call of service even if it means climbing 100 flights of stairs with 80lbs of gear strapped to their backs, knowing they are willfully going toward what others are fleeing. Who were those people? What did they enjoy? Did their lives resemble mine in any way?

Almost every one of the last 13 years since 9/11 2001, I have looked up a name or two of someone killed that day.  I don't look for anyone specific or even someone from a specific location.  I just want to read their name and remember, at least for that day, that they lived.

Like most Americans, I remember exactly where I was, what I was doing when the first plane slammed into the North Tower. I was talking on the phone to my friend, Candas, as the second plane made impact with the South Tower and we were both numb with emotions too foreign to process, yet. I remember hanging up with her and my phone ringing almost immediately. My brother on the other end of the line, in Utah, asked if I'd seen, if I understood. I don't remember hanging up with him, only that I sat, still, on our coffee table so I could be directly in front of the TV and the phone was beside me. 

What I remember most vividly though is screaming when I realized those weren't desks falling from the windows. I was holding my oldest daughter, only one at the time, and she jumped when I couldn't hold the sound back and then we were both crying. We were both frightened and scared and unsure of exactly what was happening.  I remember holding her until she fell asleep and laying her in her crib and then...just standing there looking at her. Thankful. And then I felt guilty for feeling thankful that it wasn't me, wasn't her, her daddy, her brothers or anyone we knew in downtown Manhattan with their lives crumbling along with the Twin Towers, or the Pentagon or in a field in Stonycreek, Pennsylvania.  And then I cried some more.

The slogan for 9/11 is "never forget" and I think it's a good one. I hope we never forget how our country came together back then, how we supported one another, how we cared.  I pray that we remember what it was like to cry for someone you didn't know, but ached for as though you did.  I remember speaking a little kinder, a little more specifically, for a week or so after September 11, 2001. We may never regain that sense of national community ever again, but I pray that we do. I pray for it today, right now, thirteen years after watching planes take down a marvel of human achievement because the most spectacular thing I've ever seen among so many people is what happened on 9/12, 2001.

 I pray that we really mean it when we say that we'll never forget and every time we remember 9/11 it breaks our hearts. It should. Hardened hearts allow nothing in, nothing out. Hardened hearts have no place for kindness, or forgiveness or love. Only broken hearts have space enough to allow others into themselves. This was the mystery, the beauty, of what happened on 9/12, 2001. Please God, don't let something so drastic need to happen for us to be heartbroken for one another again...


  1. Oh, Kristi, this is just beautiful. It so aptly expresses the way I feel and have felt for thirteen years now! It's terrible that anyone has to write anything about us h a subject, but you've done a superb job of it.