The passengers and I would just watch. I don’t recall anybody becoming emotional about it. No tears or anything like that. If you didn’t know better you’d assume it was just a new building being built. Excavators and bulldozers moving dirt around. Almost a common city scene. Despite this seeming banality it was one of the more sobering images I’ve ever seen in person. One that still lingers in my mind when I think of that first moment when the light emerged and everything came into view. Nearly 3000 people died right there outside the window.
Looking back what’s also sobering is that, despite the magnitude of what had happened only a few years before, the train ride became a routine that was surprisingly mundane. We’d pass by the view of the hole, get off the train and rush off to catch the next one. Just trying to get to work on time. I guess it’s not that surprising really. We as people get busy with life and work. We’re good at adaptation and compartmentalizing. We’re also good at focusing on the present, on what’s right in front of us. As time passes it gets easier and easier to narrow our focus, to forget things, even things as monumental as the terrorist attacks of September 11th. But that may be exactly why it’s incumbent upon us to remember. Not to forget that day and the days that followed. Not to forget the people whose lives were stolen, or those who sacrificed their lives to save others, and not to forget the family and friends whose lives still reverberate to this very moment with the absence of their loved ones.
We as a country, as individuals, must not forget. We must also be vigilant. And we must be grateful. Grateful that we even have the luxury of forgetting.