—Jeff Parness, founder of
New York Says Thank You
New York Says Thank You
I don't know how you could have missed it, but there is a big anniversary coming up this weekend. A lot of attention is being paid to what happened that terrible day, as it should be. It was a day that I will never forget in which I watched the whole world change in front of my eyes on the television screen in my living room. I knew, as I sat and watched the events unfold that my life and probably more importantly, my son's life, would never be the same. I remember wondering about a business trip to the coast that I was to take in a little over a month and whether or not that would happen. I debated about whether or not to go and get my son from his school so that we could at least be together as the events of that day unfolded. I considered what to say to him about everything when we came home from school. He was nine years old. I was angry with his teacher for allowing him and his class to watch the entire day unfold on the television set in their classroom. He was too young to understand what was happening and its ramifications. I understood her need to know what was happening but it was also her responsibility to protect my son, physically and emotionally. It was a horrible day in all our lives.
But what I remember just as much, is exactly what Mr. Parness said, "We're not about what happened on 9/11. We're about what happened on 9/12." September 11 was about the horror, the anger, the disbelief, and the grief. September 12 was what we Americans do best: "OK, now here's how we respond." And it was good!
Every house on every street flew their flags. People reached out to each other in a way that we hadn't in years. In a way, it reminded me of that old family idea (at least in my family): "I can pick on my brothers or sisters, but don't you dare think that you can pick on them." We may have our differences when it comes to politics or religion or just about any other topic in this country, but anyone who misunderstands this to mean that we won't protect and defend each other when under attack is greatly misjudging us. And that's what we did on September 12. And we did it very, very well.
Our country is, of course, different today than it was in 2001. My son is now nineteen years old and creating his own personal world. I am adjusting to life alone with my friends, my work, and my dog. The scars of September 11 are with us all, but they have healed--mostly. I still get a lump in my throat when I remember Congress standing on the steps of the capitol singing. I will never get the images of those people covered in concrete soot wandering the streets of New York or at the Pentagon out of my head. But when those images come to mind, I refocus on 9/12. And it was good!