I REMEMBER

I REMEMBER THAT DAY LIKE IT WAS YESTERDAY. A CLICHE-BUT-EXTREMELY-ACCURATE PHRASE USED NEARLY EVERY TIME SOMEONE IS REFERRING TO 9/11. I REMEMBER SITTING IN MRS. ROSEMILIA'S 5TH GRADE CLASS WONDERING WHY MY CLASSMATES WERE GETTING PAGED TO THE OFFICE FOR PICK UP. I REMEMBER THE TEACHERS DISAPPEARING INTO THE HALLWAY EVERY HALF HOUR OR SO AND BY THE END OF THE SCHOOL DAY, THERE WERE HARDLY ANY KIDS LEFT. I REMEMBER WALKING OFF THE SCHOOL BUS AND SEEING MY MOM'S FACE, PINK NOSE, BLOTCHY AND SWOLLEN LIKE SHE'D BEEN CRYING FOR A WHILE. I REMEMBER HER PUTTING HER ARMS AROUND MY SISTER AND I AND ASKING IF WE REMEMBERED WHAT THE TWIN TOWERS WERE. WHEN MY SISTER AND I MUMBLED, "YEAH, THOSE REALLY TALL BUILDINGS WE SAW ON THE FERRY THAT ONE TIME?" MY MOTHER RESPONDED, "YES, THOSE BUILDINGS. WELL, THEY FELL DOWN TODAY." AT THE TIME I WAS OBLIVIOUS OF THE IMPACT OF WHAT MY MOTHER WAS TRYING TO EXPLAIN TO US. IT TOOK THE WALK HOME FROM THE BUS STOP TO FIGURE OUT A WAY TO ARTICULATE EXACTLY WHAT WAS HAPPENING. IT WASN'T UNTIL I WAS STANDING IN FRONT OF THE TINY MAGNAVOX TV IN OUR KITCHEN WATCHING EACH TOWER CRUMBLE BENEATH ITSELF, ON REPLAY, THAT I STARTED TO GRASP THE MAGNITUDE OF THE SITUATION. I REMEMBER MY MOTHER MAKING PHONE CALL AFTER PHONE CALL. I REMEMBER NEWS ANCHORS ON THE SCREEN, HOLDING BACK TEARS, SPEECHLESS. I REMEMBER SEEING THE WORDS BREAKING NEWS IN BRIGHT RED AND WHITE PLASTERED ON THE TV SCREEN. I REMEMBER BEING CONFUSED, VERY CONFUSED.

FLASH FORWARD 14 YEARS. 14 YEARS OF REHABILITATION, FEAR, HEROISM, NEW CONSTRUCTION, RESILIENCY, 1,792 FT. OF STEEL, STRENGTH, ENDURANCE, LOSS, REMEMBRANCE, SICKNESS, HONOR, MUSEUMS, MEMORIALS, FREEDOM, PHOTOGRAPHS, GRIEVING, GUMPTION AND MOST IMPORTANTLY LOVE.

TODAY IS THE FIRST TIME IN 5 YEARS I HAVEN'T BEEN IN NEW YORK ON SEPTEMBER 11TH. LIVING DOWNTOWN, I USED TO WALK HOME EVERYDAY AND MARVEL AT THE BEAUTY AND PROGRESS THAT IS GROUND ZERO. NOT A DAY WOULD GO BY I DIDN'T THINK ABOUT HOW DIFFERENT THAT MOMENT WOULD BE TWELVE OR THIRTEEN YEARS AGO. I THOUGHT ABOUT IT THEN, I THINK ABOUT IT NOW. EVEN MILES AWAY, I FEEL NEW YORK'S LOVE. WE CONTINUE TO CELEBRATE OUR NATION'S PROGRESS, HONOR THOSE TRAGICALLY FALLEN, AND NEVER, EVER FORGET.

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