Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 Belongs to Them

I remember where I was. I remember the fear and the chaos. I remember the hours and days spent trying to figure it all out. This world turned upside down.

I was teaching at the time, high school history. My students looked at me for answers. I could explain the history of the conflict but I had no answers to give. There were no answers on that day.

My husband traveled for work a lot. He flew to Boston and New York. He flew home to San Francisco. He could have been on one of those flights.

It felt so personal.

We were attacked.

But what I have learned these last ten years is that while we, the world outside, claim 9/11, feel it deeply, it is not ours. For most of us it is images, it is memories, it is stories.

But there are thousand of people for whom 9/11 is not a remembrance, but a part of their daily lives. People who had their husbands, wives, parents or children were taken from them. People who were there that day that survived but face the very painful recovery both physically and psychologically. 

I did not know anyone who died on that day. Not personally or even peripherally. It was not until recently that I became friends with someone who did lose their father on one of the flights. A friend who today remembers her father as she looks into the eyes of her children. 

As I watch the memorial coverage, as I hear the names and watch the many, many stories on television today, I am aware for the first time that 9/11 belongs to them. It belongs to the people who have spent the last 10 years recovering, moving forward and remembering their loved ones. 

Our world was forever changed but their lives were altered in ways we cannot imagine. 

9/11 is not mine. It belongs to them. 

I can mourn with them. 

I can honor their loss. 

I can remember. 

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