As long as I am able, I will photograph the New York City skyline, especially on September 11th with the memorial lights glowing. It is my backyard.
I can safely say not all of us (adult age) has much in common. But I do know there is one thing that we will all leave this Earth remembering. That is, where we were or what we were doing the moment we found out the first plane hit. No one can argue that. I was in senior English class. This is the part that kids or teenagers today won’t understand when they are taught about 9/11 which will probably one day, or maybe even now, be reduced to a short summary in history class. It is the same as how I cannot relate to the J.F.K assassination. I would remember my mother talking about when J.F.K. was murdered. She said “the world stopped for days” and “people cried in the streets” and she said she will never forget where she was when it happened. It is the same when her father (my grandfather) on every December 7th about the bombing of Pearl Harbor would say to her, “the world stopped for days” and “people cried in the streets” and he will never forget where he was when it happened.
So when my niece Drea is older and she asks what happened on this day? I will know to tell her what she can’t learn in her history book. What the facts can’t teach. It was a time of love and tragic loss. She will never learn in a book how the following weeks the people of this nation for once weren’t “Italian American” or “Asian American” or “African American” we were just “Americans” standing under the same banner who finally understood what being united means, united against a common evil across the world. She will never learn how life as we knew it, stopped. She will never know about the people crying in the streets. She will never know we were literally so close to the bombing we could smell it, and see the smoke out our windows for days after.
I will be sure to tell her that I have never before this seen the amount of love and support immediately exuded from people of all different backgrounds. How people from all walks of life tried to get into the city to give aid, to donate blood, or to help search for survivors. This time, race wasn’t an issue, gender wasn’t an issue, and sexual orientation was not an issue as it is today. I will always remember the people throughout the streets the night of 9/11 with white candles, waving the American flag, and singing. At the time, it was OK to pray out loud to God or any deity without offending anyone and say “Thank you for keeping my family safe. And please keep those we lost today, safe.” On this day, we realized that there was more strength in love than hate. I will let her know that part of life is about taking beatings, but we must always come back stronger.
I will also let her know that I hope in her lifetime she will never have a reason to tell her children “the world stopped for days” and “people cried in the streets” and “I remember where I was when it happened.”