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9/11, Revisited

September 11, 2012

I took a drive through our old neighborhood today, to remember.  I remembered the way I stood watching the TV news from New York when the building I lived in shook as I heard a blast.  I remembered the rare sensation of knowing what the news was before the news did.  I remembered walking up to the roof of the building to watch the billows of smoke rise on a mostly windless day.  I remembered my wife calling home from the hospital where she worked, how we compared wild rumors of subsequent attacks and wondered when we would see each other again.  I remembered how quiet it was for the days that followed.

I drove by the Pentagon, too, past the corner of the parking lot which was fenced off for many months as airplane parts and debris were stacked and sorted on the asphalt.  I remembered the many days I ran by there, staring at a huge piece of landing gear and shocked anew at the power of humans to destroy one another.

I don’t miss the horror of that day, or the ones that followed.  I don’t miss the senseless death or the wanton destruction or hatred.  I don’t miss the way Washington DC was under siege, with military vehicles and armed soldiers in the streets.  But I do miss the humility:  the way in which, for a few days at least, Americans seemed circumspect.   When we didn’t feel the need to be bosses or bullies of the world scene, but were simply sober citizens of it.

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