To Help Us All Remember

Today, the Ohio Statehouse lawn was graced with hundreds of tiny American flags arranged in neat rows.  The Flag Memorial featured 2,977 flags — one for each of the people murdered in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 — and were configured to group the flags to reflect the people who were killed at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the downed plane in Pennsylvania.

2,977 flags is a lot of flags, and 2,977 lives was a lot of lives.  It is important for us always to remember that.

I Remember

I remember being at my desk when the attorney in the office next door told me that a plane had crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center.

I remember when he told me moments later that another plane had crashed into the other tower, and we both realized, with a stunned, sinking feeling, that this must be intentional — and in that dark,  brutal instant, everything changed.

I remember watching the small TV in his office, feeling sick and amazed and helpless as the towers fell, and we heard that the Pentagon was hit, and we learned that another plane had crashed in Pennsylvania, and we wondered where else the terrorists might strike.

I remember driving out of an almost deserted downtown Columbus, after the authorities decided it should be evacuated.

I remember feeling immensely relieved when we picked up the boys from school and got them home and felt that everyone in our family was safe.

I remember watching the TV news for hours, flipping from channel to channel, aghast and horrified at the overwhelming death and destruction and devastation, and feeling a surge of red-hot fury upon seeing the scenes of celebration in some parts of the Middle East.

I remember being back at my desk the next day, thinking that it felt unseemly and pointless and somehow disrespectful to the dead to be back at work, like it was just another workday when everyone knew it wasn’t.

I remember feeling proud and encouraged when, days later, I looked up and saw a commercial plane back in the air for the first time in what seemed like forever.

I remember, even though I didn’t live in New York or Washington and none of my friends or family members were involved on that day 10 years ago, because I am an American and I could have been on those planes, or working in those buildings.

I remember, because the memories of that day are still sharp and open and raw, as harsh and bitter and gritty as the billowing clouds of dust that boiled through the streets of New York City in the instants after the stricken towers collapsed.

I remember, because I still feel chilled and enraged when I think about the innocents who were murdered and the lives that were forever changed on that horrific day when madmen decided to attack our nation.

I remember, because I cannot and will not forget.