September 11, 2010

A Day of Remembrance

 Photo by Brian Kunnari
My father was born in 1929 and started his second family (the one I was born into) when he was in his forties - so he always had a little further look back into the events of the last 100 years than the dads of my friends. He was not an "I walked 10 miles through snow to get to school" kind of guy but rather a person interested in all of life and particularly the stories of people. Through him, I was introduced to the cars, movie stars and quite of bit of history related to WWII, cowboys (his father was one), early days in Arizona and other major historic events. His influence is probably why I chose to study history in college.

One of the events he used to talk about with a rather hushed tone was the death of President John F. Kennedy. Dad was a Republican by registry but a passionate American by birth. He always said he remembered exactly where he was and what he was doing when he heard about the death of President Kennedy. Everything and everyone just stopped and stayed glued to their television screens when the news broke. Little did I imagine that anything in my lifetime would be so awe inspiring and horrific as to make the same impression on me.

Nine years ago today, as I drove to work I realized that I'd neglected to turn my radio dial the previous night. Consequently, I discovered I was listening to Howard Stern, who I despised. He was ranting and yelling and saying "We should bomb them all!". I changed the station to news and pieced together the events of the morning. When I arrived at work, it was with a heavy heart. I found myself weeping throughout the day as my team attempted to continue working while taking breaks to view the latest news on our television.

Photo by Brian Kunnari

I will never forget the grief and loss I felt as I thought of those people who'd gone to work that morning thinking they'd be home that night and their loved ones who never saw them again. I will never forget those who boarded a plane and showed incredible courage as they determined that if they were going to die, they would go down fighting - and save lives doing it. I will never forget the outpouring of support we received from all over the world - and which I personally felt all day as I spoke to our international customers. I will never forget the way we who lived here exhibited the unique nature of the American spirit - independent yet united in our love of freedom and willingness to help neighbors in need.

I, like my dad, now have a day clearly etched in my memory as a day we all stood still to grieve a collective loss. While I long to wish it away, I also remember that we then showed the best of what we have to offer as Americans. I am grateful to be part of the living memory and will always honor this day and those who were lost to us.

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