This blog post is being re-published from September 11, 2011 to honor our 9/11 families.
A letter to my son.
Should I ever forget what happened on 9/11/2001, I want you to remember.
Seared into my memory are images from that day, conversations with my uncle and that unexplainable pit in my stomach that something so evil had happened.
I thought it was a tiny plane that had a major malfunction when the first tower was hit. I watched the second tower get hit live on television and I knew it was not an accident.
I yelled for my uncle who was at my house visiting, “ Hurry get out of the shower. Something terrible has happened!”
I stood in disbelief and shock as the first building fell, peeled away to the ground. Helplessness, I felt utterly helpless and I reached for the TV as if I could hold up the building and keep all those people from their death. Unspeakable evil.
We sat for hours watching horrible images as the story of what was happening unfolded.
Next winter my two friends and me made our way to NYC. Something in all of us had to see Ground Zero. We had to pay our respects to those that perished. We had to say thanks to those who were cleaning up. We walked past the old cemetery fence that had become the public memorial with flowers, photographs & cards all stuffed into the fence. I remember walking out onto the plywood make shift observation deck and looking out over the massive area that once was the World Trade Center. I can still smell the dirt and dust, I can taste the air, I can see the worker who I nodded thanks to and I can feel the sting of my tears on my cheek on that bitter cold January day.
With a sharpie pen, we wrote our names and words of encouragement. I penned my favorite Scripture hoping that somehow, someone might take solace. I couldn’t pick up a shovel and dig. I couldn’t hug each family. I couldn’t even make a meal. I could only pray that the God would bring healing, hope, and peace.
My eyes locked with one of the workers and I nodded to my camera to ask permission if it was ok to take a photo. He shook his head no and I nodded back to say I understood. I mouthed thank you for what you are doing. His eyes teared up and he made his way to me and my friends. He said, “Don’t take my picture. Come with me. Tell others what you see.” We walked over a few streets and he met us in golf cart and ushered us past the police officer guarding the entrance.
The images from television hadn’t captured the vastness of the gaping hole and the debris that was everywhere. Steel girders crumpled like straws.
He took us to the private memorial the rescue workers had made. Ladder company tributes, photos of lost police officers, it was too much to see and feel all at once. It was a private memorial for private moments and prayers lifted to God. Out of respect I didn’t take a picture, but I can still see the faces. I tried to show a brave face but I couldn’t contain the emotion. In an instant I was overwhelmed with emotions I still can’t explain and it happens each time I see photographs from 9/11. He took us past an area of debris piled so high, nothing was recognizable. Each worker we passed had the same look of determination as they cleared debris.
The sun was peeking through the buildings to an American flag that workers had hung and then there it was, the CROSS. It wasn’t a sculpture that had been erected, it was steel. The way the girders fell, it made the shape of the cross. The workers merely hoisted it up as a reminder that God was there.
I have a piece of steel rebar from Ground Zero that one of the workers gave me to keep. It’s not a souvenir, it’s not for a museum, it was for me should I ever forget. But now it is yours son, should you ever forget to pray for the men and woman who died that day and the families who lost loved ones. Should you ever forget to pray for the brave soldiers that protect the United States and the rescuers who were courageous and selfless that day, let it be a reminder. Should you ever forget to give thanks that God was there on that horrible day, hold it tightly in your hand and remember His promise.
It’s been 10 years and today as I reflect and pray for all the families, I still remember it all. Should I ever forget, I want you to remember.
All my love