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An Otherwise Beautiful Day

Reflections on the one year anniversary of 9/11.

by S.E. Shepherd
September 11, 2002

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An Otherwise Beautiful Day_S.E. Shepherd-Reflections on the one year anniversary of 9/11. I had resisted the idea of writing a One Year After piece, only to find I couldn’t. When the tragedy of 9/11 hit, one of my ways of coping was to write out how I felt. Though I didn’t want to, I found myself revisiting that article today, just to remember and see if I still feel the way I do.

I can’t remember a single moment of September 11, 2000; I’ll never forget September 11, 2001. Here it is one year later, and I can’t seem to shake its ghost. I’m sure many of you are like me; we almost completely put 9/11 out of our minds. But as the one year anniversary began looming closer, an emotion of dread came over me. Yesterday, I looked at the calendar wondering how I would observe today. I wasn’t going to watch any footage; the media had been hounding us with remembrances all week. Yet I found myself watching the ceremony at Ground Zero, and a flood of emotions came rushing back.

I was fortunate not to know anyone who died in the tragedies of 9/11 personally. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for those that do.

It is an eerily similar day, here in Chicago, much like it was a year ago. It is sunny, cool, a beautiful autumn day. But I can’t shake this awful sadness and doom. I see jet airliners in the sky and pray today goes on just like any other day. The logical part in me says September 11, 2001 will never be repeated, certainly not today. But wasn’t I certain nothing would happen a year ago?

We cannot live in fear. There are lessons to be learned from one year ago, and I’m not certain that we learned them all. The one most important thing we learned is the resilience of the American People. The outpour of courage, faith and willingness to overcome this tragedy is truly inspiring. At one of the worst moments in American history, Americans showed us their best, a willingness to help one another and work together.

September 11, 2001 is a terrible tragedy; over 2800 people lost their lives. It has been mentioned by the media that the death toll could have been much, much higher. In that sense, we are very fortunate. But for those that lost loved ones, the numbers don’t mean anything. Their friend or family member is gone, and today is a day for them to remember.

For the rest of us, we are all trying to find dignified ways to observe the day without dwelling on it. We try to go about our business like every other day, maybe go to a memorial service or watch some coverage. We hope we’re giving the victims their due respects, trying to turn their tragedy into triumph; honoring their memory.

It really is a nice day outside; why does it still feel cloudy?

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