I've been hearing a lot about why we should stop formally commemorating September 11, 2001. I don't think we should stop. Certainly, we should evolve. Distance should modify how we view that day, but there is still much to be gained by looking back at the day. For many children growing up in New York, the events of that day hold the most substantive lessons on valor that can be had.
All over the world people live in zones. Those of us who were here in New York that day had a bitter taste of what it feels like to live in a war zone. I should think that if our shared experience of living, however briefly, in a war zone might help us to think in a more spiritually conscious way about what making war is and does, that we ought not to be in so great a hurry to lose the thread. We should hang on tight to such wisdom.
Three years ago I wrote a short, personal reflection on hesitating/choosing to raise a family in New York City after 9-11 (See "Hell No") in which I confess that my husband and I did discuss high-tailing it out of Gotham. I'm glad we didn't cave.
What would this great city be if all who feared for the lives of their families that day left?
We New Yorkers staked our claim. We held onto our turf, knowing full well its luster is what made our town a target. I think those who thought about leaving but stayed learned something about hope that is not easily gotten by other means.
My eldest boy had just started first grade in midtown two days before September 11, 2001. He and his father were waiting at the World Trade Center subway stop for a transfer 20 minutes before the first plane hit.
This morning he and his two sisters boarded subway trains separately at different times. Yes, I worried a little more than usual. They, however, were not afraid.
The father of a young man who attends my son's school, a firefighter, lost his life 11 years ago today in the course of valorous duty. As long as I am able to remember things, I don't imagine I will ever let a September 11 go by without remembering that Brooklyn firefighter, his family, and their valor. That family -- the young man and his mother -- stayed in New York. His mom is a very talented writer. New York City feeds its writers. And then there's the valor.
I'm the praying sort. When I prayed that morning I prayed for the families who lost loved ones in the World Trade Center Attack 11 years ago. I prayed for those who still struggle to recover from its ravages. I prayed for all people everywhere who live in war zones. I prayed for the safety of a friend who is preparing to make a trip to what he (a Christian cleric) calls "The Holy Land" --which, as we all know, can be a dangerous place.
And I expressed gratitude for the city of my birth, New York City, which is a Holy Land of sorts.
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