Every year, 9/11 sneaks up on me a bit. I’m living life as we all do and then I catch one of the documentaries or tribute moments in the weeks leading up to it and the memories and feelings start to flood back in. This week my post is not about search, or even about my experience on that day, as that has been documented elsewhere in various forms. As with memories, they change subtly over time and it is interesting how people latch on that you’ve told your story to and actually change it themselves. I’ve had people remember my story to me very differently from what happened.
One of the most striking and emotional memories that hits me every year of that day is one that while I was experiencing it, didn’t have the context that it had later. Looking back it is a vivid memory with a lot more understanding and appreciation than it had at the moment it was happening. What many don’t realize about those of us that were leaving the twin towers on that day was that most of us didn’t really know what was going on. (I don’t want to speak for everyone here as we all had different experiences). I didn’t know until far later that we even were hit by a plane or that it was on purpose. That all came clear to me after I had gotten out of the building.
What I think about every year and what gets me choked up the most is the memory of those firefighters climbing the stairs and charging toward the danger as we were being told to leave the building. We were all going down the stairwell on the outside as firemen were going upwards on the inside. Firemen that in many cases never came out of that building. When we finally got out of the stairwell and in to the lower mall area in that building, the Port Authority police officers had set up a path to guide us through the underground subway system and out to safety but they were all still standing there. They were staying in the danger. Many of those people lost their lives that day.
I just write this to remind you to thank those people that go to work every day not knowing if they will come home that night. Especially in a time when police officers are under a lot of scrutiny, and as there are in any walk of life, there are bad eggs out there that can make a whole group look bad. But by in large these are good people that spend their lives trying to make this world a better place. On that day, and I’m sure on many other days, while many of us were fleeing to safety, these people were heading the opposite direction, to try to save more people and that is what a hero is. Just want to put a thank you out there to anyone that spends their lives helping others be safer or helping others have better lives. Remember these people on 9/11 and every other day.