Four times one morning every year I go downstairs to the sidewalk and stand in silence with the men and women of the fire station across the street from our apartment.
8:46. 9:03. 9:59 and 10:28. This year they also stood for Flight 93 at 10:03 and may also have commemorated the Pentagon at 9:39, but I didn’t know to check. This is the right thing to do, it wasn’t just New York City.
Across the street, the younger firefighters might have been kids in 2001. Ten years is a long time. Our oldest daughter was born six months after the towers fell. Children who were her age on that day are now soldiers, police and firemen. I’ve seen how tragedies and catastrophes on the other side of the world have affected my own kids. I can’t began to imagine how difficult it was for children to deal with an atrocity down the street.
I did not know what I was going to feel today. But as I stood there, my thoughts kept coming back to the selflessness on display. The stories of heroism and sacrifice on September 11th must have inspired the direction of their lives.
So, perhaps strangely, this year instead of a pervasive feeling of loss and sadness, I find myself filled with a sense of hope and pride in humanity. We remember the act of hatred, destruction and mass murder, but what we commemorate and honor is the spirit of what makes mankind so spectacular.