Today I am hopefully boarding a plane from JFK on my way to EMS World Expo in Las Vegas. Hopefully my flight will be on time, hopefully I will have a window seat, and hopefully it will be an uneventful 5 hours in the air. I use the word hopefully because in truth, we never really know what the future will bring.
For the past few weeks the story about the surviving 9/11 responders not being invited to the 10th Anniversary Ceremony has been circulating. There have been articles, television coverage, blog posts, viral Facebook status updates, and prolific tweets on the topic blasting the administration for choosing the attendance of politicians over those surviving first responders that risked it all on that day. Knowing my history and my low tolerance for the ambient stupidity of politicians and political games most might think I have something along those same lines to say.
The truth is, I honestly don’t.
This may be surprising to learn but the overwhelming majority of those saying these things are not the responders that were there that clear Tuesday September morning where the world was unequivocally changed in an instant. I am always wary of those who talk (especially incessantly) about 9/11. Those who are ready to tell their hair raising account of that day at the earliest convenience or drop of a hat make me doubt their tale and, well, a little bit angry sometimes. The story of Tania Head who lied about being there gives me ample reason to be that way. Now maybe they were north of Vesey Street or there later that day or in the days, weeks, and months that followed which is entirely possible so I don’t want to just dismiss them off the cuff, but I’ve noticed something different about those of us who were there that morning.
I am a 9/11 survivor and the 10th Anniversary is not about me.
Those of us who were there that morning are not so quick to talk about our own experiences, but tend to herald the lives of those we lost that day. We don’t demand respect for ourselves, we demand respect for those who all we have left of are memories. We understand that anniversaries and political ceremonies are not for us, but we expect the families of those we lost to be honored for the sacrifice that was made.
Just as we would want for our own… we expect the wives that had to carry on without husbands, we expect husbands that had to continue through life without their wives, we expect the mothers and fathers who were forced to bury their children, and we demand that the children who had to grow up without their mother or father are the ones who are honored that day. Priority has been given to their families for the ceremony and that’s good enough for me.
While we all gave some that day the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 is not about all, it is about honoring some of us that have given their all.