9/11 is winding down, again. And although is was good to finally have the memorial at Ground Zero completed (and it is lovely), I’m glad all the ceremonies and services are over. Not because I don’t respect the magnitude of what happened on this day 10 years ago. I stood on 7th Avenue South with my then 15 month old daughter and watched both Towers crash to the ground. We smelled the bitter fumes of ash and burning steel for weeks. We were that close, and yet fortunate that no one we knew and loved died that day.
The reason I am glad this day is over is that it is exhausting. It’s exhausting every year, but this year in particular, because it became a day not only of remembrance but of bickering; and that is something that has no place here, on this day. One of the things I love about Mayor Bloomberg (and there are other things I don’t) is that he stands up to those who like to bicker about nothing. In the case of this year’s memorial service, it was the Christian clergy moaning about the absence of Christian ministers at the service. How dare they not be allowed to offer up Christian prayers. Funny, you didn’t hear any rabbi’s moaning about not being included. Bloomberg minced no words, basically saying, ‘this is the way we do it – this is the way we’ve always done it – this is the way it will be done.’ Good for him.
The memorial service goes on for hours. And Bloomberg is right, that doesn’t change from year to year. The names of every person who died are read aloud, interspersed with music and other brief readings of poetry and such. Today’s ceremony was even longer, because it included the names of those who died at the Pentagon and on United 93 as well, and there were 4 moments of silence to incorporate those sites, instead of the usual two. Presidents Obama and Bush were both in attendance, as was Hillary Clinton and a slew of other politicians. Thankfully there were no long speeches.
I only caught a few minutes of the ceremony at around 10am this morning. I happened to turn on the TV (my curiosity gets the better of me each year) just as Moira Kelley’s family was speaking. As it happens, Moira Kelley is someone I remember clearly from that day 10 years ago. She was a police officer, and after the planes hit, she was on the local news video feed, and we watched her calmly and efficiently helping people evacuate the area. She had a strong New York accent and seemed unflappable. She was crushed when the South Tower fell. When they found her body, a police honor guard carried her from the site. I figured that bit of the memorial was what I was supposed to see today, and shortly thereafter the TV went off.
Kids are a great way to avoid becoming maudlin. Maya has no memories of that day, and of course Ben wasn’t born yet. It’s hard to stay sad with their laughter all around. Kids don’t spend much time looking back. They are always in the now.
The now is a pretty good place to be.