Today, the fifth anniversary of 9-11, is an emotional day for me. I've been to the site of Ground Zero twice since the attacks, the most recent time this summer. It's still a sacred ground, with visitors paying it mostly silent and respectful attention. I took my children, so that they will remember it as the hole in the ground, before they build anything on it. I'm hoping they're smart and create something as impactful as the Vietnam War Memorial and the Oklahoma City Memorial -- and not another shopping mall.
With a father in the military, a husband who is former military, a cousin who is serving in Iraq, and a number of friends in the New York area, the entire event hits me hard whenever I think about it. I didn't know anyone in the towers, though I did know one of the people on one of the planes (I had interviewed him years ago when I worked for a Massachusetts newspaper). Nevertheless, when those names are read, those people become real. They had--have--families. Children. Brothers. Sisters. Parents. Cousins. Nieces. Nephews. Friends. Jobs.
I think of the heroes of Flight 93 and would like to hope I, too, would be as brave as them should the worst ever happen. We never really know how we'll behave in a crisis until one occurs. I think of the time my daughter choked on a quarter and I had to Heimlich her. I always thought I'd be the kind of person who panics in an emergency but when you're alone in a car on a secluded road with a baby who is turning blue, you learn pretty quick that panicking is not an option.
I printed off the pictures of our World Trade Center visit and sent them to school with the kids. I hope that they'll share them with their class, because I know few of their classmates will ever see that sacred site. But most of all, I hope they share how that visit made them feel. How awed they were by the enormity of the hole, the steel cross that still stands there, the flags placed around the site, the Liberty Street fire station that had placed a beautiful memorial to their lost brothers.
Remember our heroes,