Remembering the Eleventh – Seven Years Later

Posted on September 15, 2008

Iron and the Angel 

Nothing makes your morning more memorable than time traveling over a bowl of Shredded Wheat.

Only inches from me was an old copy of the New York Times, dated September 11, 2008 – seven years after the terrorist attacks which ended the lives of more than 2700 New Yorkers and others in a single day. But it wasn’t the date that caught my eye; it was this photo of a man grieving over his son-in-law (a police officer), with his bouncy seven-year-old granddaughter in tow.

Seven years old. As it turns out, the article said she was born “just weeks before the attacks.” Which means that she’ll never get the chance to know her father, or remember firsthand the attacks that took him away. For the rest of us, 9/11 is reminiscent of the Kennedy Assassination and the Challenger explosion. Everyone old enough to remember these seems to recall any of these events remembers their life, the instant history was being written before their very eyes.

In a sense, this means that seven years ago, every New Yorker experienced his/her own 9/11 – whether fleeing the wreckage downtown or watching it all on CNN. In our rush to politicize these current events, I think we tend to forget this.

What was my 9/11? A day of disbelief and confusion to be sure, but oddly enough, the most vivid details are also the strangest. Take for instance, the hours after I got home, after the Throgs Neck Bridge and Whitestone Bridges finally reopened. On my couch, I curled into the fetal position, and watched a looping video of the South Tower’s collapse on CNN.

Some time later, a strange smell awakened my semi-comatose self; something that resembled a cross between a bonfire and a neighborhood barbecue. I rose, following my nose, searching outside, thinking to myself: “Who the hell would throw a barbecue on a day like this?”

My dad, noticing my curiosity, bit down on his lip. “That’s no barbecue, son.”

I didn’t need to hear any more. Holding my nose, I dashed around the house, shutting the windows, remembering the people burned alive, both in the crash, and under smoldering remains. My head felt light, and my stomach weak; my gorge rose, as it rightfully should when inhaling the dead.

» Filed Under Everything and Nothing, Writing

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