I hear this every year at this time: Never Forget. And each time, I am filled with a sense of… something. I honestly don’t know what it is. Sadness? Anger? Emptiness?
As I think about this today, 13 years after that horrific day, I am exploring a little more just what it means to “never forget.” Is it just some empty phrase people say to be a part of the Great Remembrance? Or is it more?
I think about the people who were in the World Trade Center. What was it like to be trapped in a room or a stairwell, knowing that you were not going to live? Were they scared? Did they think about their lives, and their loved ones? Were they religious, and ready to move on? Were they atheists, scared to know that this is the end for them?
I think about the people on the planes, who, once they realized what was happening, decided to take matters into their own hands and save an unknowable number of lives.
I think about the ones that knew they were going too low, and were about to die. Many of them called family — I try to imagine what it must have been like to be in their shoes.
I think about the rest of us, watching in horror and helplessness as we saw the towers collapse. We saw absolute horror, as people jumped to their deaths. And we saw amazing heroism, people coming together and risking their own lives to help those in need.
I remember pictures of people, and saw no color — just various people covered in an ashy grey. For a while, we forgot about war, and politics, and religion, and drugs. We didn’t care what celebrity married who, or who was pregnant. All that mattered was that we were working together to save as many lives as we could, while the rest of us in the world watched, worried, cried, and prayed.
No, I will never forget. But what about tomorrow? When we move on, will this day still be in our minds? Will we realize the true potential that we as a human race have, and be better people for it? Or will we go back to taking selfies, and worrying about the NFL drama or who’s gonna be in the World Series?
What does “Never Forget” mean to you?