As I returned from my morning walk 6 years ago today, Donna was standing at the front door, her face ashen. "Billy just called," she said, "to tell us he was okay." "What are you talking about," I replied. "That's what I asked him," she answered.
That is how we first heard about 9-11. Being in the Pacific time zone, we were either sleeping or, as in my case, out on an early morning walk when those planes crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in southern Pennsylvania. For the rest of that day our eyes were glued to the TV screen. What had happened was inconceivable and has changed the way that we live.
Bill, my eldest son, had been on his way to work in midtown Manhattan that morning. The subway train he was on had just passed under the World Trade Center. He reached his stop and came up to the street, walking toward his office, his face buried in whatever it was he was reading. He heard an airplane and, as he related to us, thought that it sounded like it was flying very low. He turned, looked up and saw the first of the two planes fly into the tower. I can only imagine the horror he felt on that morning and ensuing days.
Today, we have so many reminders of 9-11; the brave firefighters who lost their lives, the people from many countries who perished, the passengers who fought back at the cost of their lives so that the 4th plane came down in a field. Today, the vary language we use when thinking about our security has changed from what it was. We accept restrictions that we never thought would be acceptable, much less necessary, in a democracy. We willingly accept the long lines and indignity of searches of our luggage and selves as we travel in the interest of "homeland security," an entirely new term in our every day vocabulary.
Last week I spent an entire day of remembrance at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. Today, as I think about 9-11 and the tens-of-thousands of mostly innocent lives that have been lost since then from terrorism and the ongoing strife in the Middle East, it seems that humankind has made very little, if any, progress in its ability to live in peace and harmony. Oh, how I pray that world leaders will emerge to change that and bring tranquility and understanding to the world inhabited by our grandchildren.
Yisgodol, v'yisgodol. . .