At risk of sounding like a moody sentimentalist, days like today always bring out the pensive thought.
Many people will look at today with somber reflection, if not reverence.
Just as many will say “so it happened. Get over it and let’s move on.”
But I can’t.
I remember this day in vivid detail.
I heard about the first plane hitting the first tower on some banal syndicated radio show (Bob and Sherri-some piped-in pathetic attempt to make up for the station’s own lack of local talent).
They talked of tragedy and unfortunate accidents…
then the second plane hit.
You could hear the fear and disbelief in their voices. After all, I believe that their own show was broadcast from New York.
I ran from my car into the lounge where everyone was huddles around the television. Raw footage was being sent in from every direction, and raw misinformation was pouring in from the same vicinity.
I think if one moment defines this days immortality to me, and perhaps me alone, it was the filming of one person clinging to the window frame of one of the towers, and then jumping.
The camera followed him down, but we were spared the impact shot by another building screening the streetscape from the camera.
How does one forget that mental picture? How does one move on?
I admire those who can. These strike me as being similar to those who make hasty, simple funeral arrangements for their own in a weak attempt to avoid the pain and grief that ride shotgun with the Reaper.
I have never believed this to be effective method. Pain and grief are patient and calculating. You may dodge the bullet for a moment, but that sucker has radar and can lie in wait, for months or years if need be, until you decide to poke your head up to see if the coast is clear or not.
It can and will hit you, when you aren’t looking or expecting it. It might manifest itself in the destruction of a relationship, or the overindulgence in drink and/or agriculture.
But you will feel it. Like the bite of a razor sharp knife whose initial sting is mild and the blood doesn’t appear immediately. But those wounds always need sutures to heal.
The skyline of Manhattan is like a gap-toothed hockey player’s smile. It’s still there, but with obvious subtractions. The psyche of the nation is very much the same.
But for a short while, we were like a dysfunctional family in a bar fight. Someone punched my sister(and I might hate that bitch) but you are not going to hit my family and get away with it. Differences are set aside and the family fights as one unit against everyone outside the family.
We were able to do that as a nation. Politics, race, economic status were finally taking a back seat (albeit temporarily) to us being the America that we always wished we would be.
For a very short time… and then it was back to business of bashing each other as per the usual protocol.
As a people, we each stand at different vantage points, scanning the skies and heavens to wonder if something like this might ever happen again.
Maybe not today. You’d sound crazy if you walked into the Hancock Tower in Chicago with some Chicken-Little tale of doom.
But then again, you would have sounded just as crazy if you would have walked into the lobby of WTC 1 on September 10, 2001 with a description of what their tomorrow would bring.
And I think that’s why I choose not to let go, move on and forget the falling man.
I wait and soothe my children with nonsense to ease their own fears of hijacked planes and school shooters. Because they deserve their childhood, and because their fate is not always in my hands and my mind will not allow me to consider the unthinkable.
The falling man reminds me every day that we know not what tomorrow brings. To live in our moments each and every day. To give our loved ones real hugs and passionate kisses. To look them in the eye and speak the words they crave.
The falling man deserves more than just being an anonymous footnote on some Wikipedia entry. He had a family that went through his mind as he fell. A family that waited in vain for him to come home that night, just to see, touch and speak with him one more time.
The most valuable lesson, and unforgettable teaching of the falling man is to always remember what is the most treasured part of your life.
That, friends, is why today is worth remembering.