Thursday, September 11, 2008

7 Years Later...

It seems only appropriate that I say something about 9/11 on the seventh anniversary of that tragic day. The above image has become an iconic memorial for all of us who remember that day. (This particular photo was taken by Derek Jensen and was kindly issued in the public domain by him through Wikimedia Commons.)

This morning while eating breakfast, every news station was reporting on the memorial services being held near Ground Zero. I was living near Boca Raton, FL when the tragedy took place. The events happened in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, but the tragedy was global and we were affected by the implications of it as well. Governor Jeb Bush declared a state of emergency and reflection, and everything was shut down for the day. Surprisingly, it came out afterwards that some of the highjackers had been living in a neighborhood about a 10-minute drive away from my own home.

It's amazing to think how many years ago all that was. Yet, somehow it still seems so real and new. That's the funny thing about time--it is immeasurable. Chronos can fool you into forgetting how long or how short the amount of time has passed. I visited NYC shortly after the incident, and I can attest to the eerie spiritual presence that could be felt in the area. The energy of the living and deceased penetrated the air all around. Sadly, that didn't stop hawkers from trying to sell picture books and postcards of the falling towers amidst the streams of makeshift memorials along the way.

Watching the grief on the faces of so many of the people on television this morning, I was struck by how many of them still need to visit the WTC site, to actually be in the place where their loved ones were killed. It's as if they still need to connect to that place, that moment in time, where and when their loved one died. For some people, visiting a cemetery might provide that solace. I go to the cemetery to visit my mother's grave everytime I'm back in Florida, but I do it for meditative purposes, not to "connect" with her. She resides in my mind, my memories and dreams being how I want to connect with her, not through a cemetery plot. Yet, for these people participating in the 9/11 memorial today, a cemetery can never be enough. The moment of death is more important to them, not the placement of the remains. For some, the remains of their loved ones were never recovered, and so this is their final resting place. No memorial site in suburban New Jersey or Connecticut can ever provide them with the solace they seek.

I've learned that grieving never ends, but it does get easier to live with as each day passes. It is my hope for the families and friends of the 9/11 victims that they are able to move beyond the shock of their own grief and eventually find solace in the lives of their loved ones, not in their deaths. For in the end, it is how we lived, not how we died, that matters most.

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