Have you ever wondered about our attachment to dates of tragedy?
We tend to address the anniversary of death with much the same devotion that we might have reserved for birthdays.
Is it because John Lennon’s birth is an abstraction while his death is a shared experience.
Certain days of the year will always wear the mantle of tragedy.
For an older generation, the shock of December 7th resonates decades later.
For the children of the 60’s, the question has always do you remember where you were?
Today, we are removed by many years, but the events of September 11th, 2001 crossed all generations.
We don’t need to ask if you remember where you were because on that day, we were all together.
We were listening to the radio or watching television or we were awakened by a phone call.
We were lightning rods where the thunder struck.
And the electricity that courses through the blood of a reeling nation kept us connected.
And as personal and unique as our experience seemed at the time,
Your experience was my experience.
What kind of plane? A Cessna?
Are they showing a replay?
Where are the kids?
How do we know when this is going to stop?
How many of us called brothers and sisters, mom and dad.
How many of us thought about the phone calls that would never be made.
Even as we directed our anger at pure evil, we heard the stories
of unselfish sacrifice. Stories of courage. We waited for miracles.
We heard words that made us feel better.
Words like resolve.
Words like justice.
When songs of innocence change to the songs of experience, too soon we return to our old ways.
Justice bends to the needs of resolution.
A sadness gathers where the empty spaces are.
On an anniversary like this do we say a prayer or hold our breath.
Some people say we commemorate just to help us remember.
I don’t need any help.
I remember standing in a park when someone said, do you notice something?
I noticed children in the swings.
I noticed a golden lab on a leash.
I noticed how everything in the late sunlight looked so beautiful
No planes. They said. There are no planes.