This hit me harder than I thought it would. I went upstairs to see The Sphere first, but when I heard the water from the pools behind me the lump appeared in my throat before I even laid eyes on the Memorial. And when I turned and began to descend the steps, tears began streaming freely. Maybe it’s because we had just walked over from looking at the Statue of Liberty, and for as long as I can remember- whenever I see even a picture of her, I swell with Patriotism for my beloved country. I Remember seeing videos of her as a child and I can conjure the same feeling now. I can’t describe it, but it’s right here in my chest – where I want to be just like her. Lady Liberty. Welcoming those who are tired and hungry and homeless and craving freedom even more than sleep or food or shelter.
It’s been 17 years since the trauma of 9/11, and though I think of that day occasionally, as I’m sure we all do, it is no longer an event that I shudder to recall regularly. I was a High School and Junior High teacher in 2001, and I’ll always remember my students running into my classroom screaming “ Mrs. Andrews!!!! Planes are crashing into the World Trade Center!” Initially the faculty and staff thought they were doing some crazy adolescent prank to get out of assignments. But as we all filed down for a school assembly before parents came flooding in to take their children home, we were struck with this nightmare being real.
I don’t get the same tingling in my arms when I see video footage any more like I used to. I did not lose a family member or dear friend in these atrocious attacks like the hundreds of firefighters as well as WTC employees, Port authority officials, NYPD cops, and those who called their cubicles and corner suites in the WTC and Pentagon, “the office.” My heart was broken for a loss of another kind. It was a loss of something I never had in the first place- none of us did- but 9/11 only exposed this. After a loss of 3,000 lives and hundreds of billions of dollars, the great loss felt by all was loss of security and control. I’m so grateful that the Department of Homeland Security was created after 9/11 and for all of the security at the airport ( it really doesn’t bother me because I know why we need it). I’m thankful that the NYPD were a strong presence at the Foo fighters Concert I just went to at Madison Square Garden. I’m glad to walk through metal detectors to go to Basketball, Football and Soccer games.
Evil lives. We can’t control it. We can’t completely avoid it. But we can overcome it. This world contains evil. The evil is crafty and deceitful and void of compassion. It does not care for life. But love triumphs over evil. And somehow the willing sacrifice of life, like the first responders who chose to give it all to help- only results in resurrection. So although we can try our best to anticipate and avoid evil, the very best tools we have against it are love, and life- truth and goodness. Osama Bin Laden is gone. He can’t see us running through the park, and making babies and drinking and laughing on boats in the lake. We can’t show him how we are still living free- despite his efforts to tank our freedom once and for all. But thanks to all of the courageous men and women who responded sacrificially to save others that day, and those who still work day and night to secure us inside of our land, we can daily chose to live, and love and to remember.
Beauty from Ashes