Tomorrow is 9/11. Just about anyone over 20 will remember where they were and what they were doing that day. Those memories are even sharper. As someone who was perfectly safe, yet a commuter into New York that day, I recall a great deal from that day. I remember the commute in and someone talking about a plane hitting a building. I remember walking up 8th Avenue and hearing a man ranting about some attack. I dismissed him as a mentally challenged person. Unfortunately, his comments were soundly sane. I remember sitting in my office at AXA Advisors and fuming with anger and yes, fear. Then my friend Ken came to my desk and in a quiet yet purposeful tone explained his plan to get out of the city. It worked. Several hours later we were in his car, heading home. After catching a ferry then walking about three miles we made it back to the park and ride. As the tunnels and bridges were closed, there was hardly any traffic. I kept thinking about Mad Max as Mel Gibson flew across the screen in his stock car.
As the next 24 hours unfolded, it became tragically clear that there were many people who would not be coming home. Some of the fallen were from the area we lived in and it was not long before people knew someone who had a relative or friend who was killed. Cars in parking garages were unclaimed for days, tires marked with chalk. Most were eventually picked up but not by the person who drove it that Tuesday morning.
There have been many memorials to those who died that day. Some are national, some are state and some are local. I have seen two local ones that I think were tastefully done and a honorable way to remember the staggering loss of that day. The town of Livingston, New Jersey made a sun dial in a park from metal from the Twin Towers with a plaque. I cannot do it justice in this blog post but here is a link to a story about it:
The other memorial that comes to mind on the eve of this anniversary is the Short Hills Train Station Memorial. The photo below shows it. It is simple dignity. A plaque of bronze (I think) that mentions the name of the Short Hills residents who rode the train that fateful morning. I do not recall the precise inscription but I recall it is a heartfelt tribute to friends and neighbors of Short Hills, New Jersey who left the station that morning, never to return. It was their last train ride.
I saw the memorial a few years ago and was struck with what I class act I thought it was. I still do. The older I get, the more I appreciate the things that reflect personal connections. There is a place for oratory, for big ideas, for grand schemes. And yet, there is also a place for the local, the personal, the quiet reflection. This memorial is that to me.
As we approach this landmark, please take a moment to remember those who died that day, the survivors, toddlers now in high school, widows and parents still mourning their loss. There are first responders who can't stop coughing, who can't sleep without the visits from the demons of their dreams. There is still unimaginable pain for many. They mourn in silence. For others, they have moved on yet they will never, can never forget what occurred on that bright, sunny Tuesday.
Here is the photo of the Short Hills Train Station Memorial. As I mentioned, it's a class act.
Be well my friends and thanks for reading. God bless American and those in harms' way defending us.