Thursday, September 11, 2008

I'm not forgetting.

Seven years ago, sitting in a basement of a local company and helping to get bills mailed to clients, I started my morning grumbling about New Yorkers. It was mostly about how the Mets mauled the Cardinals in the previous baseball season, but there was a bit of grumbling about New Yorkers in general. I think it was my general "Big cities. Blah." train of thought. Sure, there's exceptions, like the Brooklyn-born crew chief in my old squadron who I'd run around a cowtown in New Mexico with. For the most part, though, I could take or leave New Yorkers, especially the Manhattan crowd. There was also the usual mush about figuring out how to pay off my student loan quickly and saving up for a car and house. (Things went in a very different direction for me than I'd either hoped or expected and not necessarily in a bad way.) I heard about the first tower. I chalked it up to a tragic and weird accident. Then I heard about the second tower. That was no accident.

I stopped grumbling about New Yorkers. I still don't, unless it's about the Mets. New Yorkers are my countrymen, as American as I am, even during baseball season. I'm not forgetting you guys.

I heard about the Pentagon and wondered if I bumped into someone who worked there at the time. The armed forces are a smaller world than people might think. I still pray for you guys.

I thought about my parents, both in jobs that could put them in harm's way. Dad, because of his career as a police officer, Mom, because she worked in a congressional office.

The cops, the firemen, everyone who made a bad situation better by getting thousands to safety were now paying for their heroic actions. The towers fell, and many of New York's Bravest and New York's Finest wouldn't go home ever again. It didn't matter where the other people came from, the police and firemen got them to safety all the same. You want to know I don't grumble so much about New Yorkers? That's why.

Anything I do that helps get the bastards who planned or financed or worked on the attacks is my way of saying "I'm not forgetting." Anything I do to support those who are hunting them down is my contribution to their memory. If I had a better run time, maybe I'd be back in the Air Force and getting troops from Point A to Point B or making sure they had air cover. Regardless, I can still do something, even if it's minor.

I'm not forgetting, not by any stretch of the imagination.

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