“I still have the shoes I wore to work that day.
The soles are melted and they’re caked in ash.
I keep them in a shoebox with the word “deliverance” written all around it.
They’re kind of like my ark, a reminder of God’s presence and the life I owe to him.”
Stanley Praimnath, 9/11 survivor
It was a day ripe with a cloudless clear blue sky.
The kind of deep blue sky that beckons one to look up..
to look up and far beyond…
It was the second week of September.
Labor day was behind us and fall-break was over a month away.
But there was something about this day, this bright blue day,
that made me stop and pause.
Since it was just before the end of my planning period, I had walked over to our vocational
wing in order to pick up some copies I had run off for my upcoming class.
On the walk over between the two buildings, I caught myself looking up.
Looking up and noting the brilliance of such a beautiful cloudless blue sky.
It was still very summer-like in Georgia despite the calendar reading September 11th…
I walked back into the main building just as the bell was ringing for class change.
I reached the door to my classroom in order to monitor the hallway as the kids
traversed up and down, in and out.
One of my colleagues, a coach who also taught Social Studies down the hall from me,
suddenly came sprinting by my room stopping long enough to tell me to turn on my
television because “we were under attack!”
I can remember asking him to repeat what he had just told me.
“We’re under attack, they’ve attacked New York and now they’re attacking Washington!”
As the kids were filtering in, I ran to turn on the television because
I really wasn’t comprehending what I had just heard.
As everyone began to trickle in, we gathered around the wall-mounted television
just staring at the images taking place in New York.
I remember hearing one of my girls announcing to no one in particular that her dad was
currently on a plane to New York…she needed to call her mom.
Needless to say, the day’s work and lessons were long over before they even began
as we were now in the midst of a tragic moment of our Nation’s indelible history.
That cloudless blue September sky changed our lives that day.
It changed our entire world, forever.
My colleague and friend who had stopped to tell me the tragic news would not live to see
the end of the next school year.
He was unaware that on that most fateful of days, the cancer that was multiplying inside of him,
was insidiously at work.
So much was changing, so much had changed.
It seems almost surreal, but today we have generations who were born well after
the fateful day of change…they are actually unaware that we were, that we are,
Simple names of states.
Simple names of things and places.
Yet all these years later, nothing remains simple about them.
Nearly 3000 lives were lost that day.
Many more lives were damaged.
Since that fateful day, many more lives have been lost due to the caustic air
inhaled as responders toiled to find the ashes of remains hiding in between the ashes of debris.
And then a war ensued.
And thus more lives have been lost and damaged.
Yet some people have the audacity to claim that the terribleness of that day was simply our own fault.
Some people think it really matters not that we should even take pause to remember.
Some people think it’s no big deal.
And yet on that day, lives ended.
Dreams were broken.
Hearts were broken.
And so yes, it is a big deal.
It was a horrific day of what seemed like a day of unending change…
and thus, in turn, we are now bound to forever remember…
Because the important thing today is that we must never forget why we have changed
and why all of those broken and shattered lives still matter.
Because if we do forget…if we allow our memories to fade…
then the pain, the suffering, the hurt that was felt by so many,
can and will actually return…
Such sweeping and tremendous pain mustn’t be allowed to ever return…
And so on this 11th day of September, we collectively gather to remember…
as we continue with our healing…
vowing that this will never happen again.
Our country is strong:
These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat.
But they have failed. Our country is strong.
A great people has been moved to defend a great nation.”
Former President George W. Bush on Sept. 11, 2001.