Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 In Oregon - The 10-Year Memorial

This week has been a long one. That kind of thing that just sort of hangs out there...waiting to be given its due attention, but one you want to avoid.

Like any anniversary of something sad, for me anyway, I find myself wondering why I might be a little sadder than usual, or why I avoid a spot on the calendar. For me, the entire month of June is often lost in me wondering why I feel a little down...then July 7, the date my son Jacob was stillborn, rolls right around with the fireworks that come with it the week before, and with the flash bang of an M-80, it all comes back to me.

It's just that realization of "Oh. Yeah."

I've been pretty fastidious about avoiding another viewing of the Trade Center's plane crashes and subsequent toppling from 9/11/01. I honestly can see it so clearly in my head, I have absolutely no need to see it on television.

Ever again.

But then today came. And my friend Jenny was in labor and had her twins today, and 9/11 got saved from its depressing date to a happy one, and I found myself suddenly willing and able, in the light and happiness of new life today -- to be able to go and walk among the thousands of flags flying in Riverfront Park in Salem, Oregon.

I knew no one personally who died on 9/11, at least not that I know of.

I had several friends and family of friends who died that day. One of them was Fred Cox, my friend Kristen's friend from Arizona, who had recently moved to New York and talked his way into a job in Tower 2 at the World Trade Center.

I blogged about Fred 5 years ago as part of the anniversary of 9/11 project 5 years into it, and interviewed many friends and loved ones of Fred. So today I went looking for his name, and there it was.

It's funny how you don't know someone personally, but in some small but profound way you think of them here and there. His mantra of "Do what you love, love what you do" has stuck with me over the past few years as I've recreated a new career for myself in nursing.

I almost missed the flag pavillion that was put up in the park just due to my wanting to avoid 9/11 up til today. But as I returned home from dinner with a friend in McMinnville, I was on the bridge into Salem, and the bright lights made me move a lane over and head into the park, which had several people still milling about.

These flags are MUCH taller than they appear -- maybe 7 or 8 feet in height -- and you can easily walk among them. They stretch for many many acres of the large city park, and just getting to it and getting the feel for all the names, all the lives they represent, and then you start thinking of all the lives impacted by their death and if you can't at least get a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye, I'd question your humanity.

I saw in there several memorials left by previous visitors, including this picture and a simple "Uncle Paul". Others were more ornate, with a small poem or a batch of flowers.

I search for some meaning in what happened 10 years ago. I look at the toll it's taken on our country, both financially and emotionally, and I won't even "go there" about the political part.

The amazing thing that I took away from today though, has been a bit of watching news snippets of the acts of individual bravery -- of a woman who ran TO the WTC and started hauling people out of the buildings. Of all the stories of people reaching out to each other, whether they were homeless people or first responders.

I hope everyone takes a minute to recognize just how precious and short life can end up being, and take the time to love their families especially, but to reach out to those who need it and give that little bit more.

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