Eight years ago today, my generations Pearl Harbor or Kennedy Assassination occurred with the terrorist attack of 9/11/01. And while I’m sure you all have your own memories from the incidents on that day that took over 2,980 innocent lives, each and every year when this dates comes I feel we should all try to be grateful for all the same ole cliche us people who are alive and healthy should be grateful for. People who were lost on that day were as diverse in age, race and religion as the fine city of New York itself. Hard to contemplate the business man or working woman who just happened to go to work that day or get a plane that day, only to be caught in the middle of a political statement or politics.
In a time of such uncertainty a country turned their eyes on sports for an escape from the sheer shock of how vulnerable our country had become on what begun as one typically beautiful September morning. What sports fan could forget seeing the 2001 World Series watching a city united around the Yankees in one of the most compelling World Series the great game has ever seen (I strongly recommend HBO’s special “Nine Innings From Ground Zero” if you haven’t seen it and are a baseball fan). Watching the Yankees tie and eventually win Games Four and Five at Yankee Stadium, only to eventually lose in Seven Games, was perhaps a reminder that nothing in life can be guaranteed, but as long as you’re willing to fight and you have hope…
Last year a friend of mine who is an employee of Major League Baseball was sent this email from the President of MLB, Bob DuPuy and I think it’s worth sharing…
Back out of all this now too much for us,
Back in a time made simple by the loss
Of detail, burned, dissolved and broken off
Like graveyard marble sculpture in the weather.
There is a house that is no more a house
Upon a farm that is no more a farm
And in a town that is no more a town.
Robert Frost “Directive”
As I was looking through the memos I have sent to you each September 11, I was taken aback to realize that this is the seventh time we have communicated about the anniversary of the attacks on our country and way of life. While the seventh anniversary is not a “milestone” by most people’s way of thinking, other than the fact that it will be the last year that the families of the Trade Center victims will be able to actually go down into Ground Zero, I was struck by how much has happened over that time and how complicated and incongruous the healing and recovery process can be.
During that time our country has engaged in two wars, we are about to have a Presidential election that will, whichever party prevails, change the dynamic in Washington and around the world, and give us someone other than a Bush or Clinton as President for the first time in twenty years. Every time you take your shoes off at an airport, or use a ziplock bag to hold your tiny tube of toothpaste you are acknowledging that our daily lives and routines were impacted that morning. From a baseball standpoint, Albert Pujols was a rookie in 2001, Steve Bartman was still two years away, and the Red Sox did not have a World Championship, let alone a nation. New York City has continued to grow under the leadership of a new mayor, who has almost served out his term limits, and two new ballparks in New York were just a wild idea. American Idol debuted in Briton but was still a year from its US premiere on FOX.
For me, the most startling realization is that youngsters born in 2001 are now in second grade, learning to read and write, and beginning to learn history; but for them, the history of 9/11 is one without immediacy, one without a recollection of the towers ever being there, one without the terrifying days immediately following the attacks, the anger, the confusion, the pain, the numbness. For them, 9/11 is an event to be learned, like the Vietnam War, like World War II, or like the Great Depression, not a monstrous event to be relived and considered over and over. Those of us who experienced it owe it to them to make sure they understand what happened that day and why and what it meant and continues to mean to each of us. And to do that, we must not forget.
Everyone has indelible images about that day and time that may subside but never disappear. No one can drive in from Newark or on the Long Island Expressway and not look downtown and feel the gaping losses. No one can walk downtown and not miss the buildings. Personally, whenever we have a beautiful fall day with the sun lower in the bright blue sky, I cannot enjoy it without thinking that was the type of day that altered our city, country and world. I am sure you have your own that are part of your life forever.
As in past years, work permitting, you may come to work at 10 a.m. tomorrow. Take the time to remember what happened, and what you will tell the children who were not yet born. Think of the hundreds and hundreds of people, many of whom many of you knew, who said goodbye that morning to their loved ones not knowing it was a final goodbye. Think of the police and firefighters who perished trying only to save people they did not know. And finally, be thankful for your health, your happiness, and the love and kindness your relatives and friends provide every day.
Oh, and try to remember some of that on September 12 as well.
Thanks for all you do and all your support.
Here is U2’s Super Bowl Halftime show that season, one that will always stand as the greatest Halftime performance you’ll ever see.
Bruce Springsteen’s performance of a song he originally wrote about Asbury Park, New Jersey, but that gained a completely new meaning after 9/11 during a “A Tribute for America Telethon”
And then perhaps a reminder of who the greatest country in the world is… (NOT work appropriate, but incredibly awesome and sure to put a smile on your face).