Thursday, September 11, 2008

We Can Be The Ones Who Remember

It's that day again.

For me, it's the most solemn and somber day of the year. My life basically comes to a stop, and everything, including my passionate support for the Red Sox, takes a back seat. It's a day that affects all Americans, in one way or another. Just say those two words, and it instantly conjures up visions and memories of the worst day in our long history.

September 11th.

I will be at the site, known as "Ground Zero" or "The Pit" for the seventh anniversary remembrance on Thursday morning. Like last year, the ceremonies will be held in Zuccotti Park, on the corner of Church and Liberty Streets, across from the southeast corner where the World Trade Center once stood. For me and my friend Deborah, it is an obligation to be there, to remember our friend Joyce.

There will be a few thousand family members at the ceremonies on Thursday, and this will also be the final time we will be permitted to descend into the site, to leave roses, mementoes and prayers for those 2,751 brave souls who perished seven years ago. I honestly thought that last year would be the last time, as very little room was available in the site. The construction had finally picked up in recent months, and I thought we couldn't do it this year. But I was surprised back in July when the city announced that it would happen again this year. But this should definitely be the last time, so it should be an even more emotional day, especially for those of us who've descended down into the site for every remembrance since 2002.

When I was a kid, early September always filled me with a lot of dread. The new school year was coming, and I enjoyed the vacations so much that I hated returning to school. Now, early September also fills me with a different kind of dread. It's extremely difficult to be at Ground Zero every September, seeing loved ones of the 9/11 victims breaking down. Being on the site of the most catastrophic event in our country's history, where a dear friend of mine's life ended. It never gets easier, but I feel there is only one place in the world I can be on that day. As the days get closer to each anniversary, I try to immerse myself in things like the Red Sox playoff chase, the opening of the NFL season, writing trivia for my weekly contest at Professor Thom's, that sort of thing. But the 9/11 remembrance is always like the 800-pound elephant in the room. It's there and sooner or later you have to deal with it.

So, on Thursday morning, I will. We will remember fondly my friend Joyce and all those others beautiful souls who lost their lives seven years ago. We'll remember the good times as well as the tragic day. I always smile when I think of Joyce: a beautiful spirit who cared about her family and friends, and was taken from this life too soon. She is missed by everyone whose life she touched.

Especially mine.

For those of you who haven't seen my two previous tributes on this site, here they are.
September 11, 2007
September 11, 2006

I also include two videos here. One from Bruce Springsteen, with his song "My City of Ruin," which is a touching tribute to all the WTC victims. And also, "Twisted Steel" by Ian Hunter. He is married to Joyce's cousin, and dedicates this song to her every time he plays it.

I included that short speech by Bruce Weitz from the TV show "Third Watch" as the "Words to Live By" on my blog over the next few days. It was from a show called "233 Days" when a firefighter who was killed on September 11 is found among the ruins and his funeral takes place. It was a very touching way to conclude the show. Especially the final line: "We can be the ones who remember."

We must always remember. And Never Forget.


Peter N said...

Hello to you, John, on this sad and somber day. I always write a comment to you on this sad anniversary after reading your heartfelt 9/11 posts, year after year after year. In my Thursday morning post, I included a link to your blog with my short rememberance of this day. If you go there, you'll notice that all any of my readers have to do is click on the post's title and they will be directed right here.
Your friend sounds like she was a wonderful person. You were lucky to know her and I'm sure she felt the same way about you. I know she's happy up in Heaven when she read your words, words that fly right up to the sky, and beyond.
Thanks John. Blog friend Pete. Stay strong. We have to.

Steel36 said...

It is said that Bruce Springsteen called widows in New Jersey after 9/11.To comfort and much more to listen. He wanted to know what it felt like. "The Rising" is the product of that soul searching.

I remember finally arriving home on 9/11. I had left Baltimore, where I was interning at the time. It seemed like something from a Tom Clancy novel-total unreality. I got home, fell to my bed in fetal position and cried.

Will we understand what fully happened? I doubt it. Some events are so beyond our comprehension.
9/11 is a fulcrum at the center of before and after. We go on because we just do that. Writing now, I am on the verge of tears. It is a healthy release.

The stories of our dead friends keep them alive. Q, You've told me about Joyce. I feel sad and a bit lesser because I missed out on a good person. Hey-smile, laugh, have a good cry. This is all. As long as we remember, they are with us.

I remember hearing about the FDNY football team. One of their lost always sang the Irish folk song "The Wild Rover. After every win, the lads would sing it for him.

Besides, that 2001 pennant run is the only time I ALMOST rooted for The Yankees. They did their best when New York needed them. I want to track down "9 Innings From Ground Zero" again. It was magnificent.

Steel36 said...

For all the lads, ladies and friends-

What the heck, "The Wild Rover" by The Dubliners

Suldog said...

God bless, Q.

Thank you for sharing your hurt. I only wish we could all take a bit of it.

I had never heard the Ian Hunter song. It's great.

God bless.

Ken In San Diego said...

Hey John,

Peg and I are thinking about you today. It was amazing to see the site that I saw on TV a million times for myself last summer. Thanks you for showing us that and the church. I echo steel's comments when I say I wish I had the pleasure of meeting Joyce. In many ways I feel like I have because of the great stories you and Peggy shared.

Take care,

BklynSoxFan said...

Thanks for all the beautiful comments, everyone. Your love and support mean the world to me.