Nearly 3,000 people died in lower Manhattan eight years ago today. Since, we’ve seen terror alerts go up and down the rainbow, two not-so-winnable wars launched and lives lost, a new president promising hope and change, and above all else, proof the American people are a resilient bunch. As each 9/11 anniversary passes, we grow a little bit farther apart from that terrible day. It will never disappear from our consciousness, nor should it. But once upon a time not so long ago, this nation was preoccupied with terror and fear; today it’s jobs and the economy.
It got us to thinking: What does today’s Sept. 11, here in 2009, represent to you? Is there something different about it versus last year’s anniversary? Or 2002’s? When we hit the 10-year or, down the line, the 50-year mark, will we continue reading the names of those we lost? Will children take a moment of silence in schools?
In just a few short hours, Sept. 11 became a moment every American — and, perhaps, every human — alive would forever have etched into their memory. And it’s a day we lost many gay brothers and sisters.
It’s a day we lost Mark Bingham, who tried intervening on Flight 93. It’s a day we lost Carol Flyzik, who died on Flight 11, the first plane to crash into the World Trader Center. It’s a day we lost Pamela J. Boyce, who died while working on the 92nd floor of One World Trade Center. It’s a day we lost Ronald Gamboa and his partner of 13 years Dan Brandhorst, who formed a Los Angeles organization for gay parents looking to adopt, and who died with their son on Flight 175. It’s the day we lost Wesley Mercer, a Morgan Stanley security chief, who ran up from the ground level to the 44th floor to help evacuate survivors, and never made it down. And the list goes on and on. These were our family, our friends, and the innocent victims inside a terrible stain on human history. (They were also the victims of the Defense of Marriage Act, which gave authorities the right to refuse their partners any information on their deaths. It also kept their partners from receiving death benefits, which the heterosexual spouses of 9/11 victims were eligible for, until New York State made an exception.)
Eight years out, 9/11 is still a vivid, raw memory.
What does this eighth anniversary mean to you?
(And please, don’t desecrate this post with debates about going to war or religious extremists. Just share your thoughts, your memories, and your stories. Really.)