Is it really fifteen years since I sat in an office at Cardozo Law School (which had given me office space during my sabbatical from St. John’s University) and heard more sirens than seemed normal for a Tuesday morning? “Gosh, Manhattan is louder than I had remembered,” I thought to myself, just before someone knocked on my door to see if I had heard about the plane that had flown into the World Trade Center.
Fifteen years since I wandered the streets trying to get home to my husband and daughter, only to travel back into Manhattan a few days later to try to find information about missing persons, my Uncle Mike among them.
Fifteen years since I learned we lost, not only Mike, but my friend Clarin, my law school classmate Chris, the brother of a dear friend, the lover of another friend’s brother, and so many more.
It really was fifteen years ago. And fifteen years later, I still can’t bring myself to visit the memorial that stands on the site where the Twin Towers stood.
Fifteen years later, and I can still close my eyes and see the white ash covering fire trucks and the signs posted all over Manhattan seeking information of loved ones, and feel the tears the covered my face as I touched one or another makeshift marker.
Fifteen years later, and I can still remember the abject fear I experienced in the months following 9/11 every time I was a bridge or tunnel away from Dave and Elena. (It was months before I could drive across a bridge without thinking,”Should I keep my seat belt on or off? Should I keep the window open or closed? If a bomb hits the bridge, which will make it most likely I can escape my car if I end up in the water?”)
It was all pretty horrible, and my pain today is deep – as it is each year on this anniversary.
Yet, today is a good day to remind ourselves that there are people who live every day of their lives wondering if a bomb will hit them on the way to school or work.
That there are people who every day face the potential loss of mother, father, sister, brother, friend to senseless acts of war and terrorism.
People every day who mourn actual deaths of those they love to violence of one sort or another.
And that means that today is a good day to ask ourselves: What are we doing to promote peace? What are we doing to be forces of love, unity and peace, rather than hatred, division and conflict?