Thought for the Day: As 9/11 Fades into history


For a number of years after 9/11, my Father would often speak with a nurse who worked in his cardiologist’s office. The woman had lost her brother on 9/11, he was working as a police officer in the World Trade Center. The woman had learned that my father, for a very small reason, had not been on the 89th floor that day. She held out hope against hope, that some similar reason had drawn her brother away before the collapse. She came to believe that my father, who was very kind to her and patiently listened, believed her.


Eventually they found her brother’s service pistol, identified it by it’s serial number. This didn’t convince her he was gone. My father, when directly confronted with this woman’s anguish, wouldn’t do anything to extinguish the tiny flame of hope she desperately kept. Between WWII, Korea and Vietnam, my father had seen plenty of hope extinguished, but something inside him couldn’t be a participant in it now, particularly when it became apparent that fewer and fewer people in the woman’s life could once again listen to her consider the possibility that her brother might be in a hospital somewhere, misidentified with a brain injury.


Although each of these conversations distressed him deeply, my Father never made any attempt to change offices nor arrive on the woman’s day off.  It was just a quiet obligation that he felt that fate had handed him. After a number of years, the woman no longer worked in the office. My father never said anything about it, but it was obvious that it relieved him of a great weight.


Today, on the 15th anniversary of 9/11, the nation’s remembrance is beginning to feel a little rehearsed. Every year, more people become distant from it, just like the woman’s co-workers in her office. In time it was fading for them, but not for her. I have no idea where she is today, but I hope she has found some measure of peace at her own pace. It’s a nice thought, and I want it to be true, but I keep having a disturbing image of a very lonely human being carefully studying the images of todays televised remembrance, looking once again for the face of her brother.



I took the photo above on 9/12/01. The letter is taped to Washington Rock, a 500′ ridge a few miles from my parents’ house in N.J. It has a direct view of lower Manhattan from 10 miles. Hundreds of people stood in silence there and watched the smoke pour out of the city. The letter was a note to a dead friend promising to take care of his children and to raise them as he would have. Below it is my Father’s business card. Note the address of World Trade Center #2. Read the whole story at this link: Thought for the Day – 9/11

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