Ten Years

Ten years ago today, I sat in an office in Greenwich Village and looked up from my work to wonder at all the sirens I was hearing. What I learned put me in a panic as I sought to determine where various family members who worked at or near the WTC were.

Ten years ago today, my uncle, only six years my senior, called his wife from his office in the WTC to say a plane had hit the other tower, but that they had been told not to evacuate. So he didn’t and never did make it out.

Ten years ago today, my nephew stood at his classroom window a few blocks away and my cousin stood in a doorway (having himself just gotten out of one of the towers), each watching bodies fall from the roof to the street.

Ten years ago today, another cousin, a firefighter who would some years later lose his life fighting a house fire, lost almost all of the members of his firehouse.

(And that’s just my family.)

A decade is a long time. But it is also a blink of an eye. It was ten years ago, and yet I can still close my eyes and remember standing in the long line outside the Armory in Manhattan to register my uncle among the missing persons. And I can still picture the white ash that covered the fire trucks at the fire station down the street from Penn Station. And I can still taste the fear as I took the train in and out of Manhattan in the ensuing days, wondering if an explosion would prevent me from making home to my young daughter and my husband. And oh, I can still feel the pain I experienced every time I looked at the flyers put up by hopeful people who thought someone, anyone, might somewhere, anywhere have seen their missing loved ones. I can still feel and see all of these things as though it were yesterday.

What do we do to mark the ten-year anniversary? I know I don’t want to watch endless videos of the towers falling. I can’t even bring myself to watch the memorial that will take place at the site of the attack.

I know only one thing to do. Only one thing that works for me. And that is to pray. To pray, of course, for all of those who still mourn the loss of parents and sons and daughters and cousins and friends. But, perhaps more importantly, to pray that we will one day learn to resolve our differences without bullets and bombs and without flying planes into buildings. To pray for peace – peace in our hearts…peace in our minds….peace in the world.

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