MISSION: To visit every state and territory in the U.S. For my mission a visit is greater than a stop over; I wish to explore the natural and cultural environments of these areas. Each of these locations has a story to tell, and I want to find it.

As of February 2018 I have visited all 50 states (and Puerto Rico and 2 island in the US Virgin Islands) at least once.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Struggling With What To Do

September 11th... it is just a date.  Really, a day.  But the day has meaning... it is seared into so many of our memories.  I can recall just about every moment of that morning 10 years ago.  I remember riding the DC metro, and as the masses ascended the escalators, the cell phone and pagers that went off - it was just a symphony of sounds.  And as everyone answered, there were some gasps and some faces were stunned silent.  I made my way down the street to work and arrived to find offices empty.  People gathered around the public affairs TVs to watch the horror.  I immediately got on the phone to call family; yes, I was in DC, but at that point, nothing had happened here.  I was more concerned about my sister, who often worked in the city, my godfather who was a detective with the NY/NJ Port Authority, my step-mom's brother who worked in the area of the twin towers.  Doing the roll call of family that could be there hit hard - my family eat/slept and breathed NY/NJ.  Countless generations have called it home.  (I have been in DC for 11 years and NJ/NY is still home to me).  Family calls - couldn't get in touch with Louis, Uncle Tom was home, my sister had not gone in yet... then the Pentagon was hit.  Reports came in that the State Department was bombed, there was a fire on the Mall... and the phone lines went down.  We were told to evacuate... "Get the hell out."  I did not want to get on the metro and traffic was in a DC patented stand-still.  It was chaos.  Yet, nothing like the chaos that I saw on the TV moments earlier of home.  And as I traveled, many hours, to my apartment, I learned of the falling of the towers, the crash in Shanksville.  Shock - that is the only way to describe that day.

September 11th... it is just a date.  It is a hard date.  And every year I struggle with how to honor it.  Truthfully, the day makes me sad.  I vividly recall the confusion.  I remember the struggle to contact everyone.  I remember the relief of hearing news that family got out of the financial district.  And  I remember days later getting word that all of my friends did not make it out of the Pentagon.

September 11th... it is just a date.  Yet, it is a day to reflect.  I went to Ground Zero once, and never went back.  It was a hole.  It was horrible.  I visited the Pentagon Memorial twice.  It was less broken... but that was because it was finished.  That hole was just a horrible scar from the day.  Last year, I went to Mt Rushmore, the evening ceremony, thinking that it was a honorable tribute while I was site-seeing in the Black Hills. There, I was hurt by the cavalier attitude so many in attendance had... it was so bad that I ended up approaching someone talking on their phone and told them to exit the ceremony or get off the cell.  I was so angry.  It is just a date... but it is not just a day.  Life changed that day.  And we should remember that.  We should be respectful of that.

September 11th ... it was today.  DC and NYC were in high alert due to a new threat.  Earlier that week I had called out a few young "kids" on the train lamenting about the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry and proclaiming all would be better if NYC was bombed.  Yep - right there in the Metro.  Idiots.  And I called them out.  Why was I the only one?  And later that week, we were notified about the possible bomb plot in the city... so, really, can we please be more careful with our words?

September 11th.... this year, a weekend day, and not a day to sit at home.  You could sit home watching all the documentaries, but you would go numb.  I watched the memorial, and then donated money to the Shanksville Memorial (which is not fully funded yet - so, if you are not sure what to do, consider that an option.)  I had to force myself to turn off the TV.  It was hypnotic.  But due to that possible threat, many decided not to travel into DC or anywhere near people.  I really tried.  I couldn't.  This is a hard day.  I really hated to be alone... so, I made my way toward Alexandria to attend the art festival.  Old Towne Alexandria's historic King Street hosted the festival and it was a decent get-away from the relived horror on the television.  Wandering the streets, I found a few artists that I recognized from the West Palm Beach Arts Festival in January.  Wandering the booths, I found some of these old favorites  from January (lewk, stern, marin), some that I recognized from other festivals (holwerda) and found new ones to watch (hairy potter, markowitz).   Art can be theauputic for so many.  The outdoors is good for others.  Getting outside and wandering the festival was a good way to spend the day after the memorials that morning.

September 11th... it is just a day.  It is a day that we need to remember, but we also need to function during the course of the day.  There must be a way to balance that.  Ten years ago, that morning was beautiful; it was warm, the skies were blue.  Today was no different.  So, I needed to honor that day, but then force myself to do something that I love.  Just like in years past,  I have needed to make sure that I get out.  That I enjoy life.  Because, September 11th is a day... a day that reminds us that with people, we are stronger!

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