Memories from 9/11

It's hard to believe it has been ten years since that fateful day. Time may pass, but that Tuesday never loses its clarity. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday all were spent in a stupor. I was glued to any form of media that could offer information or solace...but by Saturday I was ready to enter the world again.

My endeavor into daylight was with two goals in mind. One, I wanted to buy a flag. And two, I needed to see for myself. I needed to see that they were really gone. I lived in NJ, so I hopped on I-78 and started towards the city. I used to travel out of Newark Airport every week, so I knew exactly which point on 78 I would hit the crest of a hill and be able to see the towers in the distance. On this day I hit that crest and they were not there. Not even realizing that I was crying as I drove under overpasses with American flags tied to them, I made it as close to the city as I was permitted. It was a sunny day, with a beautiful blue sky, and all I can remember was the smoke against that backdrop.

After awhile, I turned around and headed back towards home. I was looking for my second goal. A flag.

To my surprise, I could not find an American flag anywhere. Every store was sold out. I ended up back in my town and was directed towards the American Legion where they were reportedly giving away little plastic flags for a tiny donation of a dollar or two. I had never been to the American Legion before. I've driven past it for so many years, but never acknowledged it. I went in and thought that it was closed, but someone pointed towards a door in the parking lot. This door led downstairs into a bar. I had no idea there was a full bar and restaurant below the American Legion.

I went up to the counter to inquire about the flags, which they happily handed to me and asked only for a $1.00 contribution to assist those impacted in our town by the tragedy. I offered far greater than the simple dollar requested, and I turned to find more people ambling in from outside. A family walked down the steps. They took a single small flag and handed over a hundred dollar bill. The next person took a single flag and handed over a couple twenties.

I couldn't bring myself to leave. I watched as every walk of life came down those stairs and offered whatever they could for a simple three inch American flag.

Time has passed, but never the memories. I was proud of my community that day. Perhaps giving money was a simple way out, but it was the faces that I remember most. Every person that walked down those stairs bore a twisted look of wistful pain. We grieved, but we grieved together.

Comments

  1. It is hard to believe it's been ten years. That awful day, week and month, we were all New Yorkers. The clarity of the horror never seems to fade, does it?

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