I took this photo of my son and his stepsister Nicole on September 16, 2001. It was the most somber and intense time for us. We lived in NJ at the time and the events of September 11th found me relocating to Southwest Florida in October 2001.
Taken from Liberty State Park which was 20 minutes from my home this day remains very special to me. Both kids where having a very difficult time grasping that Manhattan was still there. I used to take them into the city all the time to just knock around for the day. Our favorite place - Museum of Natural History. We had made a plan to go to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade that year having gone to the St. Patrick's Day Parade earlier that year without any problems. We never made it, first it was security issues, then it was we all lived in Florida. I keep toying with the idea of taking them one day, well they are 11 & 13, I am running out of time.
I used to be a consultant in the city and I worked all over the city, so I had several opportunities to work in Tower 1 (funny we never called them North and South until after September 11th) and the connecting World Financial Center. I used to take my lunch and go up to the observation deck on a regular basis or sit in the area outside and look up at the Towers. It was a wonderful place to just reflect and wonder.
Back to the photo above. I had been all over the city with these two kids, but I never took them to the Statue of Liberty. This day there were thousands of people milling in small groups, lots of people crying and silent. Everyone so very focused on the smoke rising from Lower Manhattan. I can't begin to tell you how amazingly silent it was there that day. That was until I come along with two kids hooting and hollering and so excited to see the Statue of Liberty. About two minutes into their pure joy and old gentleman taps me on the shoulder and I think "oh great I am going to get asked to leave", but much to my surprise he looks at me with tears in his eyes and says "Leave it to children to point out to us that we should be looking at what is there and not what is missing" and he points to the smoke billowing from Lower Manhattan as he hugs me.
I think that day they looked at Lower Manhattan a total of 15 seconds, because all I could get them to talk about was the Statue of Liberty. The only tears they shed that day was because they couldn't actually go to the Statue of Liberty as it was closed for security reasons.
I took a very important lesson from that day to focus on the hear and now, those that are here. So this September 11th, instead of focusing on all the sadness and what is missing what would this world be like if we all:
- Did something nice for someone who does not expect it
- If we all volunteered at a school, senior center or some other way to help the greater community
- Baked cookies and dropped them off at a local fire department in memory of the loss (a tradition I do with the kids and my son's step mom is picking up this year with them)
- Called and old Friend and said hello, you are important to me
- Made sure the last words you say each time you part someone you love are "I love you"
- Taken photos more often of those that we love and at places that we enjoy (I have taken the kids to the WTC and to the Observation Deck - never took a single photo of them there and they don't remember it)
- Do things that we keep meaning to do when we find time
So while there is a lot of focus in the coming days of the terrible loss, just remember that there are people in your life that you should hug a little tighter, say I love you a little more often to and make sure that they are appreciated. To all of you thank you for all of your support, your guidance and willingness to share with me. I cannot begin to THANK YOU and tell you HOW MUCH I APPRECIATE you all!