A Day of Grief and Human Glory

Once when I was little, seven or so, I was sitting on the couch with my Uncle Johnny and we were watching something about Memorial Day. Johnny was about 30, a veteran of Korea, and on a day off from the Brooklyn Navy Yard. On the TV they showed a cemetery and at the end they played “Taps.” Suddenly Johnny stood up from the couch, saluted and held the salute with tears in his eyes. I didn’t understand what I was seeing but I knew it was important, and came to understand it had to do with loyalty and grief. And of course I remember it now because that is what I am feeling toward 9/11. I just want to stand and salute as it goes by, and it is going by.

Oh my God what we felt that day and that night and for years after. We wore our hearts on our sleeves. Read the emails you sent, the diary entries. It was all so big. It was the last day of the 20th century and the first day of the 21st and somehow, by dusk, we knew this. In New York, the thing you have to understand is not that the towers were hit, we could have taken that and regained our stride the next morning. It’s that the towers came down. That was impossible. If the towers could fall anything could fall. If the towers fell they were taking a whole world with them.

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