Friday, September 12, 2014

In Honor of Adulthood

It sometimes seems extraordinary to me that yesterday marked the thirteenth anniversary of September 11, 2001.  At times it feels in my mind's eye as if the events of that day just happened.  And at times it feels as if they occurred a lifetime ago, in another place and at another time.  The advantage of having been a bystander to all that occurred that day - having watched the events unfold from the Jersey side of the Hudson River and having enjoyed the tremendous, randomly-bestowed benefit of not having sustained a direct loss of a family member or of a loved one.  

For one such as myself - and perhaps for you as well - fortuitously insulated from being a victim of that day's events, it is instructive to see and to hear and to read first-person accounts of those who were less fortunate than I was.  If you are of a like mind then I would recommend that you read this piece from yesterday's New York Post.    While it is not to be mistaken for an in-depth analysis (in-depth analysis is not why one reads the Post after all), it is a fascinating piece.  It is the first-person account of seven different "twenty somethings", all of whom were children (some as old as juniors in high school) and living in or near Lower Manhattan in September 2001.  None of the seven lost a family member at the World Trade Center but the impact of the events of September 11, 2001 reverberated through them and through their families for years thereafter and continue to do so. 

I would also recommend that you make time to watch the simply exquisite documentary that Steve Buscemi has made.  "A Good Job:  Stories of the FDNY" is presently airing on HBO.  It is sixty minutes well spent.  You may not be aware that thirty years ago, Steve Buscemi was a member of the FDNY.  Beginning as a twenty-two-year-old Probie in 1980, he spent approximately four years at Engine 55 in Little Italy.   Engine 55 lost five members on September 11, 2001, all five of whom were initially listed as "unaccounted for" that day.  Buscemi joined the other members of Engine 55 - including several who he had served with almost two decades earlier - at Ground Zero on September 12 in the search for their lost brothers.  Ultimately, four of the bodies were recovered.  

Mere moments into the film, it is clear what a labor of love it was for him to have created a forum in which probably more than a dozen men and women of the FDNY shared stories of the job, including but not limited to the way in which what happened to the FDNY on September 11, 2001, in terms of both the loss of men and the impact upon those who survived that day and woke up the following day duty-bound to continue running straightforward into the mouth of Hell.  

Inscribed into the stone above the West entrance to Norlin Library on the campus of the University of Colorado, Boulder are the words of University President George Norlin:

It is as true today as it was all those days ago when President Norlin spoke those words aloud.   We not only owe a duty to those whose lives were lost thirteen years ago to never marginalize or trivialize what happened to them and to their loved ones by reducing that day to footnote status in history but we owe a duty to ourselves as well.  The world in which we live commands us to be adults - including at those times when we would prefer not to be so.  Keeping an eye fixed on the course ahead while keeping alive in one's mind the course over which you have already traveled is not only a fairly easy thing to do, it is the prudent thing to do.

One might even say it is the "adult" thing to do.


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