It's almost an afterthought.
I say almost because for many, the memories are still fresh in their minds. They're haunting. And I can only imagine that some still do not look forward to this day on the calendar.
It's Tuesday. The same day it happened seventeen years ago. Most seniors in high school now weren't even born when it happened. For most of us, life has definitely moved on. We knew where we were when it happened. I was on my way to work, my wife and daughter were getting ready for another day at home...maybe going shopping. We had the news on as we normally did before switching to PBS kids when images of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center first appeared...then the second. Let's just say not much work was going to be done that day...and we were preparing for a food show.
But I think about today. My daughter, just over a year old when it happened, starts college next week. I am typing this up while on break from orientation now. My son, now a junior in high school, wasn't even born.
In school, they learn about the events of September 11, 2001. It's a history lesson for them. They learn about what happened based on what is written on a page, what they see on a video, what they read online. It is sad yes. The chain of events, the heightened awareness, security at the airport, the news, all of it, is normal to them.
But prior to what happened seventeen years ago, it wasn't.
We weren't always at war. We didn't need to take our shoes off at the airports. We didn't have to worry about our safety to that extreme.
I wrote the words below in 2011. For that article, and when I re-ran the story since, I used the total number of people I had heard to have died due to the events of that day, not including those who heinously perpetrated the attacks. That number was 2,974. Depending on where you read it, it could have been 2,977. Tallies since then have brought the number up to 2,980. But regardless of the number, that's too many lives lost.
Every year, I try to come back and honor the memories of the people for whom this country still mourns, and think how the events on that fateful day changed the course of American history, seventeen years since. By the time this posts goes live, it is nightfall...seventeen years after that the final plane crashed in a field somewhere in Pennsylvania.
Two thousand nine hundred seventy-four.
That's the number of people who lost their lives when everything was finally taken into account. Countless lives were affected by this national tragedy. Even if you didn't know anybody on those planes, at the World Trade Center, or the Pentagon, you grieved along with those who did. You stood there in shock, in a daze, just glued to the television or radio.
Our lives have not been the same since. My daughter, now eleven, asks what we (her parents) were doing that morning. "We were just going about our lives," was my reply. "We watched the morning news, getting ready for work, and couldn't believe what we were seeing on the screen." She was just over a year old. She couldn't have understood what was going on then. But she will learn that what she sees as "normal" now, really wasn't before that Tuesday morning.
Two thousand nine hundred seventy-four. It is the number of reasons why we never forget what happened seventeen years ago today.
On this day, the seventeenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, my family and I send our prayers to those who lost loved ones that Tuesday morning. We pray, and will continue to pray for:
the children who lost their parents that day.
the children who would never meet their fathers because of the events of that day.
the firefighters and policemen and women who risk their lives doing their jobs, running into the face of dangers as many are running in the opposite direction.
those servicemen and women fighting for our freedoms away from home, whether or not we agree with the conflicts they battle.
for our leaders, regardless of their affiliation, that they make the right choices to keep the citizens of our country, and others, safe.
And finally, we pray for peace. Peace amongst ourselves as family, as a community, as a nation.