September 11th … Always a Good Day to Reflect


For many people, September 11th is our ‘JFK in Dallas’ or ‘Pearl Harbor’ … it is the ‘where were you when’ of our generation. It is very easy to look around our country and world and divide things up as pre/post 9/11 … and some of those are good and others are very bad and others quite sad. But there is a clear impact – we are a country that has now been essentially at war for 13 years, which means kids growing up now have a very different view of the world than kids born in the 80s or 90s or before.

The image above is of a pottery item my older son had made back in 2008. Here is what I wrote about it at the time on an old blog:

A couple of days ago I picked up the pottery my kids made during their two-week drama camp at the end of summer. They made several items, which augmented the singing, dancing and acting work they also did in the class. We only heard about a couple of items, so it was great going through the ‘unveiling’ process and seeing how differently the two boys think. But one thing in particular was fitting – and striking – to see this week.

It is amazing to me the extent that September 11th has become ingrained in the reality for these kids. They were preschoolers when it happened, and we didn’t shield them from it the way many other parents did. This was life, history, happening right before us and to us. I know people who lost family on those planes, and have seen some of the many ways it has changed us as a people and a nation. Yet I was still surprised and touched to see my older son produce a memorial to the event while on summer vacation.

I remember that morning well.

My wife was at the park with Danny while Chris was at half-day preschool. Chris was 3, and Danny was about to turn 5. When she went to the preschool there were people crying and she learned there. We were in Massachusetts, so we were closely tied to events. At my work, the sister-in-law of a coworker was on one of the planes, and I walked through as she got the news … and it was awful.

Where was I? I was at work, and had a colleague visiting from California working on a joint project … and she then got stuck in Massachusetts for more than a week, while her husband and family were justifiably very upset having her stranded across the country. We were looking at data we’d collected and suddenly there was a news flash and we went to the CNN site and saw the second plane hit live … it was surreal.

It is always said that 9/11 is not the day to discuss any of the things that came after – the wars, deaths of hundreds of thousands from those wars, increases in invasive security and loss of many rights in exchange for more protection from threats, an upswing in militarism, decrease in tolerance and respectful discourse, and so on… but neither does any day ever seem to be the right day. But I agree that 9/11 should be kept for the memories of those lost and a time that is gone.

All I know is that day changed all of America … it is another step in the ‘loss of innocence’, and a painful reminder of how fleeting life can be when someone bent on destruction crosses our path. So take a moment today to be thankful for those you love who are around today, those who serve our country in any way, and those who use their time in non-military ways to spread the ways of peace and love and tolerance throughout the world.