i don’t want to remember 9/11

I don’t want to remember 9/11. Why would anyone? It was one of the worst days this country has witnessed in modern history.

Many of us have tried to put that day behind us and move on. Some of us are still in therapy trying to move forward, without looking back. But for the past few days 9/11 has been inescapable. The media hounds us with tributes, and remembrances of the soot-soiled swarms of people running away from the befallen Twin Towers—running for their lives.

What’s so special about 10 years, anyway? What makes the 10th anniversary any more special than the 8th, or the 9th, or the 12th?

Every day we live with a heavy heart because of the powerless lives lost that day. Every day we realize the equality of the human being. It didn’t matter whether it was the waiter working Windows on the World that perished, or the power broker, master of the universe, he was waiting on. At the end of the day, at the end of 9/11, they were both just helpless human beings, as they were the day they were born.

Everyone wants me to remember 9/11, as if I have ever forgotten it.

I was in Houston at a conference learning about the latest advances in sensors and instrumentation. My son, then 7, was back home in New York with my ex-wife, who worked at Tower Two.

It wasn’t until 6 in the afternoon that I found out my son was OK, and that my ex was too. It turns out our babysitter was late and Kathy made it to her building just as it was collapsing, right before her eyes. My kid was OK too, though who knows what long-lasting impact that day may have on him, or, for that matter, on the rest of us.

My colleagues and I didn’t get home until days later. One of them took the first bus out. He arrived back even after I did. I’ve kept the ticket to a baseball game I was scheduled to go to that day. It reads: Enron Field, Houston Astros vs. San Francisco Giants, Tuesday, September 11, 2001. My how things have changed.

Spectacularly, the people of Houston, the same as others throughout the country, lined the city’s streets to donate blood. The coming together on 9/11 was a byproduct of the crime that the terrorists couldn’t have foreseen.

As tributes to those who died on 9/11, some fire engines in New York remain inscribed with the words, “We will never forget.” I see them all the time. I don’t want to remember 9/11, but how can I ever forget?

If you’d like to share your thoughts, I invite you to do so.

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The Editor

John G. Falcioni is Editor-in-Chief of Mechanical Engineering magazine, the flagship publication of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

September 2011

Twitter from John Falcioni

Twitter from Engineering for Change

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