Where were you when the world stopped turning?
Last year, I fully intended to post pictures from mine and Pat’s visit in August 2022 to New York City. She wanted to be on Broadway. My one request was to see the 9/11 Museum. Time and life and whatever got in the way that time.
Now, this is the time.
Truth is, I thought most of the pictures are on her phone; when, actually you see, a lot of the pictures are on MY phone. So I kept reminding her to do it when, actually, I should have been doing it. Please believe me when I say, growing old is not for sissies. It is serious stuff.
The visit was sobering.
We got there ahead of opening and already people were milling around. The plaza is a garden in the middle of massive buildings. It is quiet - in the noisest city on earth.
Inside, we toured everything except the immersive explanation exhibit - we got the experience without it. Pat was mostly interested in the hero dogs, we bought several books and stuffed replicas of them. Their refrigerator magnets greet me each day.
A college friend of mine who lives in the city told me locals don’t go there much, it’s a thing for tourists, like thousands of other things in the city. They lived the moment - don’t need to have it museum-ized. But, I believe it is one of the truly holy places in America - I have not been to the other plane crash sites.
I do remember where I was that day. I do remember that night listening to Newberry College President Gen. Mick Zais telling students in the chapel that they would be going to war - nobody needed to say it, they all knew - some would not be coming home. This was their generation’s Pearl Harbor. Because we were a weekly paper we didn’t do all of the end-of-the-world headlines that Big Dailies did. I later worked in Greenwood and in their conference room was a framed poster of some of the “best” 9/11 headlines.
If you want a good cry, find Bruce Springsteen singing at the 20th anniversary. The Boss did a whole album, The Rising, about New York-New Jersey’s recovery; but for this anniverary he did what then was a new song, “I’ll See You in My Dreams.” For a while, I left the newspaper business and taught high school. I developed a where-were-you-when lesson around 9/11. My kids told me about sitting in class, watching it happen - until the buildings came crashing down. Then, the teachers realized, this was like showing live action from the battlefields of Vietnam and, mercifully, turned it off. Nobody wanted to work; everybody was sad, for months. After a while, kids couldn’t remember where they were, so it became an interviewing lesson. Find somebody ... ask them ... write it.
Life went on. We hardly notice Patriots Day now. It comes up sometimes when Donald Trump says what really happened isn’t really known and when Vivek Ramawamy gets asked a question so he just has to respond. He wants the conspiracy people’s votes, but he doesn’t want to be quoted like he’s a conspiracy theorist. He’s just, you know:
Yeah, we know those questions. We know their purpose.
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