14 years later…
Every year, on the 11th day of September, at 12:00.01 a.m., this space goes dark.
Dark in the sense of darkened memory.
Dark in the sense of lost hopes and dreams.
Dark in the sense of innocence surrendered forever.
Dark because our hearts are filled with anger and pain.
Dark because our eyes are filled with tears.
Dark, now, for the 14th year in a row.
Dark, in memory of that fateful Tuesday that we now call, simply, 9/11.
Do you remember that day? I do. I always will.
• At 8:46 a.m., 14 years ago today, American Airlines Flight 11 out of Boston, Massachusetts, crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center.
• At 9:03 a.m., 14 years ago today, United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center and exploded. Both buildings were burning.
• At 9:37 a.m., 14 years ago today, American Airlines Flight 77 out of Washington Dulles, crashed into the western side of the Pentagon and exploded. All on board and 125 in the Pentagon were killed.
• At 9:59 a.m., 14 years ago today, the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed, crashing into the streets below.
• At 10:03 a.m., 14 years ago today, United Airlines Flight 93 was crashed by its hijackers into a field in Pennsylvania after the passengers made a desperate attempt to retake the aircraft. All on board died.
• At 10:29 a.m., 14 years ago today, the World Trade Center’s north tower collapsed from the top down. A cloud of ash turned day to night in the narrow streets of lower Manhattan.
Nearly three thousand lives ended that day, 14 years ago today. Men. Women. Children. The oldest was 85. The youngest was two. They died in an instant, vaporized by fireballs. They died long agonizing terrifying minutes later, trapped in the smoke and the flames. They died jumping from the upper floors of the Twin Towers. They died in the Pentagon. They died in a field in Pennsylvania.
I remember it all. It might as well have happened yesterday. But it was 14 years ago. Fourteen years. Fourteen years.
And my heart is still full of anger and pain. My eyes are still full of tears. It is hard, so hard, to get through this day of remembrance, every year, on 9/11. We who survived can’t help but weep on this terrible day. For everything we lost. For everything that should have been. For all those whose lives were lost. For all who remained behind, broken and bereft.
Yet I must do what I swore I would do, 14 years ago, as I walked with my friend Toni through the streets of lower Manhattan, and stared at the posters with the faces of the missing, and at the empty firehouses, and at the twisted steel girders.
I promised that I would remember.
It is time now to fulfill that promise for this year. It is time again to remember. It is time again to open the film cannister into which I brushed some of the dust of Ground Zero, time again to touch that dust with my own hands, and time again to stand witness. To make sure that I do not forget. That we do not forget. That no-one forgets. That all those lives will never be forgotten.
To say, one more time, this year and every year,1 as long as I have life and breath, in words and images, NEVER FORGET.