Two years ago, on the 9th anniversary of September 11th, I passed a little boy on a bicycle. He was probably about six. I didn't know this child, and he flashed me a peace sign. I gave him one back and the second he was out of sight, I completely teared-up. I think that would have gotten to me any other day, but on September 11th, more than ever. I will think of that moment every September 11th for the rest of my life.
I watch the "As It Happened" coverage on MSNBC every year, flipping between that and the reading of the names. I always remember this young woman that was on The Today Show a day or two after it happened. Both her boyfriend and brother worked in the towers and she hadn't heard from either one of them. She looked exhausted and was rambling and was telling Katie Couric that just the other day, she found-out her boyfriend didn't know who Katie Couric was and "who doesn't know who Katie Couric is???"
I think about her every year. I wonder how she is and say a prayer for her. I wish I knew her name so I could look her up.
Today, I visited the 9/11 Memorial in Atlantic Highlands. Monmouth County lost a lot of residents that day.
I saw there for a long time and stared ahead. You can see the skyline from the memorial. The city is so close you can almost touch it, but suburban NJ sometimes feel like a world away from it.
I had brought my notebook, but I didn't write anything. I reflected, and thought about that horrible, heartbreaking day that happened just blocks away from the building my family and I spent my childhood in. I looked around at the sky and remembered how 9/11/01 was THE most beautiful, perfect morning.
A family came over and ate lunch by the memorial. They had three boys. The oldest one looked about 12-years-old. They talked about the memorial, the names on it, the Freedom Tower. I thought about how none of these boys had any recollection of the attacks...neither did that little boy on the bicycle that day...to them, it will be a page in a US History book and a story they'll hear older people talk about. "Where were you when it happened?"
When I think about that day, I still can't believe it happened. I still can't wrap my brain or heart around it. I never will.
And when I think about that little boy flashing me a peace sign on the anniversary of that most horrific day, it gives me hope. I feel optimistic. Life goes on...