I am writing this about 36,000 feet in the air. We are on our way back home and I have been thinking about the last 72 hours. One of the many things that we did while we were in Manhattan was to visit the 9/11 Memorial. It was overwhelming to walk through and re-live the tragedy of that day in September, 2001. As we entered a part of the Memorial we heard voices overlapping one another calling to mind where they were when the planes hit the towers. It took me back to that day when I was teaching at Cy-Falls. One of the band directors came through the choir room and told us that a plane had flown into one of the towers of the World Trade Center. I dismissed it as an error by a pilot and hoped there was not too much damage. When we discovered the second plane crash, we knew that something was dreadfully wrong.
We were far removed from the physical space of the damage of that day. We were in Houston, but felt that we were connected by our own sense of vulnerability and loss. How could we ever make sense of something like this? Why would someone knowingly cause this?
As I remembered the events of that day and continued walking through the Memorial, I wondered what the stories were of the people who lost their lives on the planes, in the buildings, in the field, and at the Pentagon. As I wondered about their stories, I came to a place that had all of their faces on the wall. On several computers you can pull up their names and hear their stories from their loved ones. You are invited to see pictures of them and their lives. All of the sudden these was more than just pictures on a wall.
Perhaps, to me, the most powerful space in the entire exhibit was a large room with benches on the sides and in the middle. Their were two large projection screens in the room. The narrator said the name of a person who was lost that day. Then the stories that we could see on the computers were projected and shared in this large space. I felt compelled to sit there and pray for each name that I heard and each picture that I saw. While I could not stay and listen to the 3,000+ stories that were shared, I gave thanks for knowing these amazing people a little better.
The gift of remembering life is one of the greatest treasures that we share as a people. We hold loved ones close in the stories that we call to mind, the children that we raise, the life lessons we learned. These are the things that keep us moving forward. We long to be better people because of the lives that went before us.
Today I am grateful that I can remember the remarkable people that went before me in this life. As I left the Memorial, I hold their memories a little tighter, share their stories with more joy, and give thanks that I am who I am today because of their presence in my life. I am their legacies.