Never Forget<!-- --> | <!-- -->Assume Wisely
Never Forget

Never Forget

Posted: September 11, 2023

Only their eyes showed they were alive. Ashen faces, gray matted hair and clothes: the dead appeared to rise up from the subway. They came in waves.

In 2001 I was an adult, but just barely. I had just arrived home from living abroad and needed a job. There was this new thing called the internet. I could search for jobs without having to leave my apartment. My mom was not impressed. She didn’t care. If she was outside, I needed to be outside. I could apply online but when I was done I needed be outside looking for work and not come back until after she was home. I remember that fight; it was September 10th.

The next morning, I made phone calls and faxed out my resume. The jobs were posted online, but I still had to fax my resume to most of them. I prepared to make my way out the door. My dad called in a panic. He asked for my mom! He asked for my sister! He wanted to know where they were. He wanted to know if they were okay.

“Why?" I asked. "What's going on?”

“You don't know, turn on the television.”

I turned on the TV and asked, “What channel?”

Dad never answered. It didn't matter.

At that point, my experience is probably quite common. I see tower one smoking. I see the plane hit tower two. From my apartment, I can't see the World Trade Center. I can’t hear the buildings collapse.

When the jet fighters scream past my building, I hear them just fine.

The call waiting rang, my mom was on the other line. She asks for my sister! Is she okay?

My sister attended a local college by the World Trade Center. Her train passed through World Trade Station. She was underground when the attack happened. She had no way of knowing what was going on above her.

"Mom?" I asked, "do you still want me to go out to look for work?" As terrified as we were that day, I was still more scared of my mom.

"Not today."

We didn't hear from my sister. Minutes became hours. Finally, a call came from a payphone; She had evacuated the train into a tunnel. With train services disrupted, it would be take time to come home.

The last stop on the A line is never crowded. That day was different. I met my sister at the top of the stairs. Waves of people emerged from the subway. The last of the waves were covered in ash. Only their eyes showed they were alive. Ashen faces, gray matted hair and clothes: the dead appeared to rise up from the subway.

As each wave emerged, a pair of Yemeni brothers who owned the corner store selflessly offered water to those in need. They faced anger, threats, and ignorant comments in the days and weeks that followed, but what sticks with me is their act of kindness, extending water to those outstretched grey hands.

That image lingers.

In my Irish neighborhood across from Good Shepherd church the bagpipes play at funerals. In the months that followed I heard bagpipes. Every Saturday. Multiple times a day and during the week. The bagpipes played. Many of them for first responders.

That sound lingers.

Git Sum (un)common sense,

Don't miss my next thought:

© 2023 · Rho Lall