Every year I have written about my memories of the day, and what I saw later at Ground Zero. Not this year.
Earlier this summer, my niece let me know she was going to NYC with her husband and my great-nephews (arguably my greatest-nephews, but I could be biased). Amidst the discussions and my recommendations for restaurants, places to go, and things to do, I recommended they go to Ground Zero and made a request.
We forget that to those now starting to be teenagers and younger, 9-11 is history. They have no conscious memory of it, truly knew no one there or at the Pentagon, and while it has shaped their lives in ways they can't yet comprehend, it is not of their life. It may be an event that took a family member away, but that is a void that has always been a part of their life.The request I made was that my niece and GNs learn about Rick Rescorla, and what he did that day. He was indeed a soldier once, and young; and, he was last seen that day going up and in, trying to save all the people he could. They learned of him, and when they were at the memorial, they sought him out.
My GNs learned a great deal, and now have a example of courage, honor, integrity, and sacrifice they can relate to on some level. 9-11 is now something a bit more real to them, for it has a name and a face.
I hope one day that we can visit that memorial again, together, and I can share other memories of the best of humanity amidst that caused by the worst. Of New York surprised and overwhelmed by support, and not sure how to handle it because their disaster plan made no provisions for outside help coming in. Of the crews that did the impossible, and created a new and functioning emergency command center on a ferry in a matter of hours. Of the people who did show up, with equipment and supplies, and just started doing. I admit, I still get a laugh thinking about the cop who was talking to me about the Mounties who just showed up and started directing traffic and taking up other duties to free up NYPD for what was truly needed; and, the look on his face (and the funny intonations of his voice) as he was talking about people thanking the Mounties, and how they had never done that for NYPD in the days before 9-11 ("They never did that for us"). Of those who had the grim task of clearing and searching, even as the boots they wore melted as they worked.
Today, I will remember what happened, how, and why. Tomorrow, I need to start thinking about teaching those boys "Men of Harlech" and, if we get some boys-only time, some other songs. Maybe even work to get them hooked on Kipling, and other subversive writings.
Today, I am sure they know more of the day than they did; and, they know of a man. A man who sets a good example, and who makes the day more personal for them through learning about him.