It's that time of year again. Another year of 9/11 memorials and tributes. Newspapers, magazines and televisions will again be inundated with coverage of that horrific tragedy eleven years ago. Truth be told, I make an effort not to watch any of it. Even eleven years later, I still can't watch a movie about the terrorist attacks on the twin towers. I try my hardest to ignore 9/11. In fact, I usually mark the day with a simple Facebook post to my old New York roommates. "You're in my thoughts today."
During last year's decade anniversary, I shut off my computer, unplugged the television and tossed my smartphone. Instead of following the coverage, I marked the day by attending a local fair with my wife. I decided I needed a little Mayberry in my life. Instead of watching coverage of the memorial, I filled up on hot dogs and soda and toured booths selling hand made knick knacks that were destined for closets and future tag sales.
It's not that I don't appreciate what happened. Just the opposite. On September 11, 2001, both my sister and I worked in New York. My sister Jennifer had an office at RCA records right in Times Square. The night before the towers were struck, we had attended a rooftop fundraiser not far from the Twin Towers. I have pictures from the event with the gleaming behemoths towering behind us in the distance. Who was to know that the next day they would be reduced to rubble.
I don't have any stories of missing planes or subway trains. I didn't work in the Towers. But like most Americans, the events of 9/11 had a profound impact on me. Many "what ifs" crossed through my mind. What if I stayed with a friend that night in the city? What if I accepted that internship in the Twin Towers? What if I stayed at New York Law School instead of transferring to Pace? I was a graduate of both Pace University and Manhattanville College. Some of my friends and acquaintances lost their lives in the Towers. Why was I so lucky?
I will never forget that horrific day. That cell phone call from my sister asking if I heard what was going on as firetruck after firetruck flew by her car to impending death. I remember my roommate Pat coming home after I spent hours trying to contact him. He was covered from head to toe in dust. His office was across the street from the Towers. All the windows were blown out. I remember watching the coverage with my roommate Nicole who managed to make it home earlier from Manhattan. I couldn't help wondering how they dealt with the tragedy. After all, they were there. I remember a phone call from my grandmother from Poland asking if I was OK. I remember visiting a few days after the tragedy. I found a once bustling metropolis had become a ghost town with soldiers and barricades standing guard at Grand Central Station. I remember countless people searching for loved ones with seemingly thousands of photos pinned on walls. "Have you seen my dad?" "Searching for my wife. Please call."
I will never forget 9/11, but sometimes I wish I could.