This is not my typical healthy-living or running type of post, but today is 9-11 and its aftershocks are a painful memory to many of us, wherever we were.
Every year since then —
Those two powerful Words conjure certain images for those of us who are old enough to remember that day. I was not in New York City, Washington, D.C., or Pennsylvania; I did not know those who perished or survived that terrible day.
But I remember.
I was on a business trip to New York City back in August this year, working in a building that looked down upon what we think of as “Ground Zero” – where the World Trade Center Towers had been.
It felt strange to be this close to that spot.
When I first looked down at the site, it brought back a flood of memories from that day 11 years ago.
The Day the World Changed
I was teaching at Good-Will Hinckley’s Glenn Stratton Learning Center, as a Special Education and U.S. History teacher for students that had behavioral and emotional disorders.
We learned about the first plane striking, the teaching and clinical staffs had a lively debate on the pros and cons of allowing our students to:
- know what was going on
- watching history unfold
We decided that the students needed to know and we turned on the television in the classrooms. Watching the horror and destruction that morning is something that I will always remember.
As I watched the smoke coming from the buildings, tears were streaming down my cheeks.
I remember one of our more “hardcore” teenagers looking at me and quietly asking, “Mr. Shaw why are you crying – this is just TV?”
I answered him back – quietly. “No this is not just TV, real people are hurt and dying in those buildings. Today is going to change our world as we know it.” He and the other students looked at me for a minute and there was a difference in how they were watching the events that were unfolding. The tears kept streaming and it wasn’t just me.
The rest of that day is a blur and was one of the most emotionally draining days of my life. Attempting to maintain my composure, while re-assuring students that they were safe was very difficult, because I really didn’t know if they were. That night after work I went straight home, instead of going to the gym. I waited for my wife to come home and we talked – a lot.
The uncertainty that surrounded the days following the attack, were stressful for everyone in our Country. I am a retired Coast Guard Warrant Officer and one of my concerns was whether I would be recalled to active duty. There was no question about going if I had been recalled (I wasn’t), but it was stressful as we waited to see what happened next.
The events and images of that day are burned in to my soul, but at the same time – as the years go by and the actual feelings of anxiety, rage and powerlessness have faded. The images are becoming less clear, but I will remember the events of that day that I cried in my classroom.
The 11th Year
This year marks the 11th anniversary of 9-11. There will be crowds gathered, public ceremonies of grief, speeches made, rhetoric spoken, but I will not be a part of those activities. I prefer to honor those who died or had their lives changed forever that day – privately.
It is my way.
What will I do on 9-11-12?
To me 9-11 is a day of reflection.
This year I will run. After I finish I will find a quiet spot and think about that day, my life since and how fortunate I am to still be here, when so many are not.
The reality is that
My run today my personal way of honoring those who have had their lives irrevocably changed or lost that day.
I remember and will not forget,
Yes the tears streamed down my face again when I listened to this song, just same way I did the first time that I heard it.
Live your lives well and remember.