In memoriam

We say we won’t forget, but we do. We forget when we get up in the morning and hustle the kids off to school. And we forget when we rush through our morning ablutions and throw ourselves in the work of the day. We forget when we stand in the bright sunlight, on a broad green field, watching dozens of strong, healthy children race after a soccer ball. We forget when we’re stuck in traffic and can only think about all the things we need to do while we’re “wasting” time in the car. We forget as we watch the seasons roll around, the fresh green of spring, the yellowing hills of summer, the rainbow hills of autumn, the gray skies of winter. We forget when we join with our friends to celebrate an anniversary, a wedding, a new baby. And we forget when we mourn a friend or loved one who died yesterday or the day before.

But even as our lives rush by, there are those moments when, suddenly, that dreadful day zooms into the forefront. I think of it every time I clean the sink, because I remember Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas laughing at her compulsion to scrub the grout on the sink with a toothbrush — every single night. I remember it when I look at my digital clock and, by sheer coincidence, the time is 9:11. That happens a lot, and it always manages to shock me. I remember it when I think about Lt. Brian Ahern’s children and wonder how they’re doing. I never met him, but his was the biography I wrote for the 2,996 project last year, and I came away with a profound respect and liking for this solid, kind, gently funny and so very brave man. I certainly remember it when I think of our troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, because I see the straight line between what happened on that sunny Tuesday morning six years ago and the battle they’re now fighting in the hot deserts and high mountains, stranded amongst people who dislike and distrust the Americans, but are even more frightened of the horrors their own kind can inflict against them.

I’m moving into the future, something denied the 2,996 men and women who died on that day, the 3,774 American troops who have died in Iraq, and the 372 American troops who have died in Afghanistan (not to mention the many coalition troops who have died on those far away soils). Part of this inexorable flow of time is the fact that memories fade away. After all, one cannot live simultaneously in the past and the present. So I forget. But I remember too. And I keep in my heart those who have died in this long war.

UPDATE: Wizbang is rerunning a post from last year, the fifth anniversary of 9/11, that provides dozens of links to memorials, in words, photos and videos.

UPDATE IIThe Anchoress remembers that day vividly and in its most painful details.