Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Day To Remember

It was a perfect afternoon in late summer. The weather was warm and sunny, but not too hot. My husband had taken some time off from work, and we were both worn out from amusing our toddler all day. Maybe it wasn't the most romantic way to spend our wedding anniversary, but when you become a parent, you soon learn to choose your moment. Our special time was going to come much later on, after the children had gone to bed. There was a pizza in the fridge, together with gateau and a bottle of wine, all ready for our celebration. 
My over-worked husband had used our special day as a lever to escape a big client meeting in Manhattan, but (then, as now) he could never let up completely. While I got ready to collect our ten-year old from her after-school club, he rang in to his firm's New York office see if everything was running smoothly. For the first time ever, a call to his colleagues was over in seconds - even before I'd had time to leave the room.
'That's odd,' he said. 'The PA hung up on me. She said she couldn't talk. Something's happened.'
He was already firing up his laptop as he spoke, and was composing an email as I walked out of the house.

It was our 19th wedding anniversary: 11th September, 2001.

Half an hour later, I was back from the school run and we'd forgotten all about our special day. The horror unfolding on TV and radio wiped everything else out of our minds then, and for a long time afterwards. My husband should have been in the WTC that morning. Like the thousands of people who were actually there in Manhattan, he is very conscientious, really hates being late for anything and was bound to have been on the spot, way too early for his meeting. 

Every relationship has its ups and downs, and ours is no exception.  Yet not a day has passed since then that I don't look at him and think 'I am so lucky to still have you by my side.' It could have been very different. My whole family are deeply grateful for our good fortune, but we are painfully aware that friends, colleagues and many, many other people in the United States and around the world are facing today in terribly different circumstances.

When I saw my regular monthly spot here fell on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, I thought for a long time about what I could possibly contribute. Finally, I decided that the First World War poet Laurence Binyon said more than I ever could, and in only a few lines. His words have been a comfort to millions over the years, and I hope these extracts from For the Fallen will help you through today wherever you are, and whatever your circumstances.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: 
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn. 
At the going down of the sun and in the morning 
We will remember them...

...But where our desires are and our hopes profound, 
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known,
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust, 
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain; 
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness, 
To the end, to the end, they remain. 

All over the world today, names will be read out as we remember those who died. Their most fitting tribute is that they will all live on in the memories of their loved ones, and in the thoughts and prayers of those of us who witnessed the indescribably tragic and world changing events of 9/11.

Christina x

Christina Hollis is a writer. Today, that's all you need to know.


Elanor said...

Powerful words, Christina. Thank you for sharing your story with us. x

Caroline said...

Thanks for sharing Christina. It's a day that no-one will ever forget. Caroline x

Christina Hollis said...

Thank you, Elanor. It was very difficult to post: I hope others can get some comfort from the poem.

Christina Hollis said...

Thank you for commenting, Caroline. Everyone has their own memories of that terrible day, and like the shooting of JFK everyone remembers exactly what they were doing when they heard the news.

marybelle said...

The beautiful poem is read at remembrance ceremonies. I have heard it many times before. Incredibly moving!!

Christina Hollis said...

The Binyon poem really does say what we all feel, doesn't it, marybelle? I felt the same way when J.G Magee's words about slipping 'the surly bonds of earth' were used at the time of the Challenger disaster.

Michele L. said...

What a wonderful poem and thanks for sharing it Christina. I think that says it all. I distinctly remember the day the towers came crumbling down. I cry every time I think about all the lives that were lost.

Christina Hollis said...

Thank you for stopping by, Michele. Three thousand lives lost, but so many more affected. It hardly bears thinking about, does it? Everyone involved has had to be so brave.

Pat Cochran said...

Foremost in our prayers this past Sunday
were those lost on September 11, their
families and friends. We also included
in all those in this country and all over the world who feel the loss as well.

God bless you all!

Christina Hollis said...

Hello, Pat - thanks for dropping by. It's horrifying to think that this was such a worldwide tragedy. Not only were so many lives touched directly, many, many millions of other people could do nothing but watch helpless as it unfolded on TV.
We must all hope, pray and work to ensure nothing like it ever happens again

Anne McAllister said...

I just found your post, Christina, and was very moved at your story and the Binyon poem. I was in New York that day, ready to go to the airport to fly home. I will never forget.