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I will never forget

September 12, 2012

I’m a Reddit junkie, when I let myself be. Tonight, I’m reading an AMA from a guy who escaped Ground Zero on a bike. People are responding, asking, telling their stories. “I was 5, and I remember…” “I was in 8th grade…” “I was working in New Jersey…”

It’s 11 years later. Here in Dallas, yesterday, I noticed an entire residential street near me lined in unusually large American flags, and didn’t connect with it until this afternoon.  I’m sure they’re showing all kinds of remembrances and specials on TV, somewhere they’re having memorial services for those who died in NY and DC.  I’m not working right now, haven’t talked to friends, haven’t turned on the TV< and so I’ve not had a personal mention today, until now.

I remember. We will never forget.

I was 24 years old, living in an apartment in Irving. I was still working at FedEx then, but I was sleeping when my Mom woke my via a cell call and said, “A plane just hit the World Trade Center in New York. Turn on the TV.”  The words didn’t make sense at first, and then – like everyone else – I assumed she meant a small 4 seater plane, or something. I turned on the TV and woke up very fast.

I don’t remember what we said. I don’t remember if I saw the second plane hit live, or if it was the replays that I remember seeing. I remember the videos of ash-coated people running for their lives out of the destruction area. I remember feeling, “What the hell is happening? What is this?”  I remember real horror, real fear, and I was hundreds of miles away.

That day was a daze. I eventually went to work, because what else was there to do? Nobody actually worked that day, we all talked, cried, watched footage and replays, waited to hear about more horrible things. The Pentagon was hit, and another plane went down elsewhere. The whole fucking world didn’t make any sense any more.  The FAA grounded all non-essential flights, then ALL flights. DFW airport and Dallas Love Field were still.  That, more than anything, was unreal…the silence, the empty skies overhead.  We watched more TV, and I turned away when they showed people jumping from the buildings. We were lost, we wanted to do something, but there was nothing for us to do.

That evening, or maybe the next day, I went to Sean’s place (he was still with his now ex) and watched it all with them, while two-year-old Lisette played on the floor, blissfully unaware.

I remember. People queued up to donate blood. People got angry, really angry, but we were all so very sad. For about three days, we were all one people…We, The People, had been attacked, and we felt for the dead and those who lost people. We learned more about United flight 93, and how another massive tragedy was made a little smaller through TRUE goddamn heroism.

I’ve been to New York since then, and I’ve seen the fenced off holes in the ground, the debris, the twisted metal. There was an adjacent building that lost an entire side when one of the towers burned and fell; it was covered with a giant tarp then. The scars were still there, years later, and the pictures and notes posted all over the fence all said the same thing: We will never forget.

It can’t undo anything, but there’s something to be said for never letting go. Never forget.

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