Monday, September 12, 2016

Fifteen years on

Because the cash machine around the corner was out of order, and I’d spent most of my cash at the Brimfield Fair on a really interesting, really cool Roseville pottery vase –and the rest of my cash on light bulbs at the hardware store –  I had to go out anyway.

Because the BofA in Back Bay is pretty much the same distance as the BofA on Cambridge Street, I decided to fetch my cash from the BofA on Boylston Street.

Because the Boston Public Garden is quite literally my front yard, and it’s such a pleasant way to cut over to Boylston Street, I was going to be going that way anyway.

And because it was the 15th Anniversary of September 11, I decided I’d follow the path that takes you by Boston’s 9/11 Memorial.

Boston wasn’t the target, but the weapons used for the Twin Tower attacks were planes that took off from Logan, so most of the people on those planes were locals. And Boston being Boston, if you didn’t know someone on either of those planes, you knew someone who knew someone. I know that I did. (Plus the company I worked for at the time had a NOC – network operations center – near the top of one of the towers, and a few fellow employees were killed there. I didn’t know any of them, but I knew a couple of the guys who were on the phone with them when the tower collapsed. They had been told that they were going to be helicoptered to safety from the roof, so they died with some hope, not just stark fear.)

I’d been on one of those flights – the American Airlines morning flight to LA – a couple of times over the years.

And I’d flown out of Logan on September 10th, heading to Orlando, but out of Logan. I’d also flown in and out of Logan over the weekend, having gone to Chicago for my Aunt Kay’s wedding.

So, what if, what if…

And, so, yeah, those attacks were personal. But that’s personal with a small p, not a capital P. Not my loss. Not my grief. Other than loss and grief in a general sense, and for country. (Like pretty much everyone else on the face of the earth, I’ve got my own capital P Personal loss and grief, thanks. Just nothing to do with 911 memorial9/11.)

Yesterday morning, there was a ceremony for the families of those who died, so the 9-11Memorial was decorated. There were a dozen or so people there when I stopped by, early afternoon. In the distance, I could hear bagpipers. (I passed them later. The Fire Department was having some sort of commemoration for all those NYFD firefighters who were killed.)

Not my loss. Not my grief. There’s no one who died that day who I miss. For those who can’t say the same, I wonder if it’s “better” to have lost a loved on in such a big and public way than it is to go through the private losses and griefs that most of us endure during our lives. Although I have never  lost anyone I cared about in such a sudden and violent way, I do believe that it’s easier in general to cope with a death if there’s been some time to prepare for it. In any case, so many of those who died on 9/11 were still so young. I read somewhere that the average in NYC was only 40. Whether sudden or prepared for, young is worse than old. No denying that.

Anyway, I was happy to give my small witness, to acknowledge 9/11. This is Boston. You know someone who knew someone.

Much has changed since 9/11 – in The World, and in my world. Some for the better. Most, alas…

One thing that hasn’t improved is the crassness of marketers.

Some knuckleheads in a mattress store in Texas thought it was a good idea to have a twin tower of mattresses sale, complete with towers of mattresses that someone knocked over. (Really?) And in a Florida Walmart, some knuckleheads put together a Coke display, with cartons of Coke Zero stacked to resemble the World Trade Center. (From Ground Zero to Coke Zero…)

Another thing that hasn’t improved is the crassness of some people.

And this year’s award goes to the bachelor party bros who brought a blowup sex doll to the 9/11 Memorial and take some selfies with it. (Yuck…) Turns out, they were Brits. But they were also Wall Streeters. No surprise there. It could have been worse, I suppose. They could have done some dwarf-tossing while they were at it. Or been doing jello shots off the belly of the sex doll.

There’s not a ton of stuff that I hold sacred, not a ton of stuff that I don’t think you can make fun of. But seriously, bachelor party folks, are you not aware that, given how few bodies were recovered, the 9/11 Memorial is something of a graveyard. Especially in the minds of those whose loved ones’ bodies were never found. Selfies are one thing. But the blowup doll? Why don’t you all just go and brexit yourselves?

Fifteen years on, there’s still plenty to think about…


Here’s a post that I did on 9/11, a few years back: Just another day at the office.

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