Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remembering 9/11

It's been nine years since the terrorists attacked the U.S. It's hard to believe my kids have never really known a pre-9-11 world. They are asking questions now, especially my youngest, like "Were the people on the planes scared because they were flying into a building?" "Why didn't the firemen just spray water on the fire?" and "If people jumped out a window, was there a fountain on the ground they could fall into, like in front of Daddy's old office?"

It's natural, I suppose, that most of the conversation revolves around New York and the twin towers. We've been there and seen the hole in the ground and the building around it being reconstructed. We've been in the fire stations and the TV shows focus on that event. My husband used to work there, and was on the top floor when the bombing of 1993 occurred. So there is connection.

But we live in D.C. now, and we know people who were in the Pentagon. We pass the building often, hardly noticing anymore how it's been fixed, one wall slightly whiter and smoother than the others. Unlike the Ground Zero area, the Pentagon rebuilt quickly and moved on.

For a few years after moving here, we participated in a "Freedom Walk" on September 11. It wasn't a protest or march or anything political. People of all faiths, political points of view, and ages gathered in the shadow of the Washington Monument and walked through D.C., by the Lincoln Monument and across the bridge, by Arlington Cemetery and over to the Pentagon, where a flag was draped over the section of wall that the airplane had taken lives. We were all Americans. We all loved this country.

When Obama became president he canceled the 4 year tradition. He said it was the former president's thing, and we could no longer organize. Funny thing, it wasn't even organized by the president. It wasn't mandated by him or suggested by him. It was organized by a group in the Department of Defense that supports the military and their families.

I miss it.

Anyway, today I remember. Everyone has a story about that day. If you'd like to share, I'd love to hear yours.


  1. That sounds like a lovely tradition - I'm sorry it was canceled. Seems like some sort of violation of freedom of assembly.

  2. He canceled it?! It's funny-the Pentagon is often overshadowed by the tragedy at the towers. I mean, when I think of 9/11, I don't think of the Pentagon right away, but NYC. Thanks for reminding me. I loved that Americans can pull together like that no matter what their differences and remember their dead.

  3. Mystery Robin - I think for any big gathering you have to have some sort of permit, but I think the bigger issue was that it was a small unit of the Department of Defense that organized it, and as such, he could shut that part down. With the amount of people, they had to shut down roads and re-route and re-time public transit, all of which can be controlled by someone else. It's complicated, I suppose, and though other groups have sprung up to keep it going, it has never been the same.

    Jessie - I think the Pentagon is overshadowed for a couple reasons. It's not in the middle of a tourist area for one, so there weren't home videos of it exploding,(the one video they keep showing is from a parking lot security camera) and since it's so fortified and half buried in the ground, it didn't collapse. There were fewer fatalities, less media coverage, and less civilian involvement. Also, it's essentially a military establishment, which makes it feel more reasonable as a target. Mostly, I think it's just because it wasn't as widely photographed with the high drama footage accompanying it.

    Still, since living here I have a much greater appreciation for the people in it, and for the people who work every day in buildings that could be the next target.

  4. It's so hard to believe it's been nine years. Great post.

  5. I can't believe how long ago it was! I was a middle school teacher at the time right next to a military post. They were all on a closed gate level of security and there were some students we didn't see for days.
    The kids' eyes got wide every time a large plane landed on the post next to us.