I'm watching a show on CNN called Beyond 9/11: Portraits of the Survivors. It's a half hour in and so far it's only people in front of a sheer white background, just telling what they went through that day. Just listening to people talk about the same event from so many different views is very moving. There are a few people from the 81st floor of the second tower, a few firefighters, Rumsfeld, Tom Brokaw, George W., wives of lost ones, and so on.
I occasionally have tears falling down my face. I can't wrap my mind around that day. I spent it in my college town, glued to the television like everyone else in the country. I know people died, were injured, lost loved ones, are still feeling the physical effects let alone the emotional damage done ten years ago. But the size of the disaster has sometimes gotten lost for me.
One of the men speaking on this show was a Chief firefighter at the time and sent some of his Lieutenants up one of the towers to not put out the fire but to pull out people. And that was the last time he saw those people who followed his orders. One of the lieutenants was his brother. How do you heal from that, knowing that you were doing your job, yet it caused you to loose a part of your family?
Another man made it to the ground floor before the buildings fell and was headed outside through the courtyard between the two buildings. But he said it looked like a war zone, debris and dead bodies filled the area and he was told to go out another way. How does that image not haunt someone; you're at work and the next thing you see is dead people and remnants of your work place?
Another man was a firefighter who, several days after 9/11 found his son, also a firefighter, in the debris, and helped carry his body out wrapped in an American flag and a body bag. And his other sons, also firefighters, say they have no idea how he their dad did that, went down to the sight, day after day and helped pull out other people's family members.
I never really thought about the individual stories of the people who lived through that day. There were so many stories about the overall effects that the people that make the story have a heart got lost in the cleanup and rebuild. I didn't feel it personally at all. I was sad that something that horrible could happen to our country, that another human being could do that to someone else. But I have never turned the events of that day inward. I have never focused on the losses one at a time. According to Wikipedia there were 2,996 deaths that day. Who were those people really and who did they leave behind?
And I also want to know about the children who were born that day. Today they will be 10 years old and they have a story to tell too.
I don't think there are enough words let alone the right ones to encompass all the emotion of that day and all the memories that stay with someone. It's haunting, it's simply sad. But in the aftermath, the survivors and the families and the community has become a powerful entity of pride and resilience.
9/11/01 forever in my heart.