Never Forget. Yesterday, that phrase was peppered throughout your Facebook and Twitter feed. You even see it on the bumpers of cars and trucks. It is a call to action. Every time I see one, especially when I am outside New York City, it reminds me of the unity we had as a country after that terrible day. The cliche so fit back then - It was the worst of times....It was the best of times. As funerals were on a never ending rotation here in New York City, the rest of the country were filling their towns with the American Flag. They stood with us.
Now, some 13 years later "Never Forget" remains - but for New Yorkers, it is not a call to action. It is a way of life. Everyday in one form or another we are reminded of that day. You leave for work and there are police in the subway station conducting random bag inspections. You secure a spot on the train (not always a seat) and you glance up from your smartphone and you see a poster that instructs you "See Something, Say Something." As you get off the train - the police presence can be thick. Especially if your station is a major hub. And most assuredly if the nation is a level orange.
Commuting by bus, you can't escape the hole that remains in our skyline. And despite the glorious rise of the Freedom Tower into the skyline - you still see one building and not two. You might lay your eyes on the Hudson River that helped the terrorist navigate their way to the tip of Manhattan. You might even be reminded of the vessel you took to cross the Hudson that day to get home.
Despite how communal 9-11 was to New Yorkers, it was also very individual. There isn't a New Yorker who at this stage in their life hasn't answered the "Where were you?" question....at least 50 times. And our stories take us past places, puts us with people, and surrounds us with sounds. Those places we still encounter from time to time. For some those people remain in their life. And those sounds persist. Oh, the sirens! For months after 9-11 if I heard a siren my heart would leap and flutter. And CNN.com would be consulted if there were a bevy of sirens heard below.
After 9-11, I had a very difficult time getting back to normal. My husband came to work with me the first day back. I was on medication for several weeks thereafter. I even insisted that we drive to work. And we did so for the next year. During that time, I received two gifts of love - a red fleece blanket covered in hearts and a woven bamboo box full of items that would help one to relax. They were from friends and co-workers and were meant to encourage me and they did. The box (with new contents) and the blanket are still in my bedroom. I see them everyday and am reminded of the need to live on and move on. Yet, I don't forget. I can't forget. I live my life as a tribute to the lives cut short.