This must be how my parents feel about the Kennedy assassination.

Even though I’ve been living in Pennsylvania for going on three years, I’m still a New Yorker at heart – especially on days like today.  For the last 11 years, every time this particular date rolls around on the calendar I feel a little sick; I spend the day remembering in vivid detail where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news.

Right now, it doesn’t matter what you think as far as how it happened: whether you think it was Al Quaeda, the Rothschilds, the Jews, the United States government, or that guy from Ancient Aliens, what matters is that anyone old enough to remember watching those towers crumble, or to understand what they were hearing on the radio about the Pentagon attack or Flight 93 undoubtedly feels more than a bit chilled every year when September 11th comes around.  Thousands of people whose lives were snuffed out simply because they went to work that day, or hopped a plane somewhere.

My fiancée almost was one of those people.  About two weeks before the attacks, she had an interview for a company in the World Trade Center.  She had been working for Pfizer at the time, but wanted a change of pace, which led her to apply for a job that she was definitely a shoe-in for.  Her résumé was impeccable, she aced the interview, and she was convinced there was no way that she was going to lose to another applicant – but somehow the company decided against hiring her and took on someone else.  The implications of what might have happened if she actually had gotten that job are terrifying, to say the least.

I haven’t been back to downtown Manhattan in several years since the attacks – at least not close enough to see Ground Zero.  I went once, a couple of years afterwards, when the wound was sill raw and new and well before they broke ground on the now almost-complete One World Trade Center.  Just two open pits, surrounded by nothing but a high chain-link fence and a palpable silence.  It’s not the same if you’ve only ever seen it on television; it’s bigger. The impact is harder and more real, as it’s not just something that happened but something that happened.

I’d like to go back sometime soon, maybe after the construction is over.  I’m unsure if I’m going to be able to.  Someday, perhaps, but not yet.  Not today.

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6 thoughts on “This must be how my parents feel about the Kennedy assassination.

  1. I went Sept. 10, 2002, and came back changed. You’re right — seeing too big gaping holes where buildings and people used to be was startling. Walking through Manhattan shortly after it happened and seeing the walls of faces of people looking for their loved ones is permanently burned in my brain. There are some faces that drilled their way in. I no longer remember their names, but they’re in my mind.

    I wasn’t going to say anything about it today. I’m annoyed by all of the catchphrases that popped up around it and won’t be posting an obligatory “Never Forget” (as if we could) on my Facebook wall. I didn’t lose anyone particularly close to me, so I don’t have anyone in particular to memorialize. I’ll just send a silent prayer to those who were lost, and quietly mark the day.

    • Those who have an intimate connection to the attacks tend to not politicize the events so much as quietly just remember the shared pain and horror and seek out like-minded people for comfort and commemoration.

      I think as New Yorkers – especially those that lived so close to Manhattan as we did t the time – we have a much more visceral reaction to the attacks than a lot of other people in the country or even the world, save those that were also directly affected by the attacks, like Pentagon workers, people who lived near the Flight 93 crash, or people who lost friends and family.

  2. Today will be filled with the aforementioned “never forgets” and the obligatory conspiracy claims by folks like yours truly… but I think I fully get what Dave is kinda aiming at…

    I for one am humbled by the event as it represents the turning point and focal point of much of my polical/social evolution. The bravery I saw that day, the pain and shock of knowing that 3000 people were murdered. The anger I felt toward the whole middle east….

    This certainly os our generations kennedy… well said Dave.

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