Tuesday, September 11, 2012

There But For The Grace of God Go I: Honoring The Innocent Souls Lost on September 11th, 2001

We Will Never Forget

by Saralee Rosenberg

Eleven years ago today, on a warm, sun drenched morning lavished with hints of autumn, New Yorkers learned how quickly their lives could change. How swiftly their daily rituals and routines could be altered. How abruptly their already fragile psyches could be maimed by despair.
Although word of the terrorist attacks on Tuesday September 11, 2001 caused the world to raise their fists and demand justice, New Yorkers also had to come to grips with the harrowing revelation that the violence and staggering loss of life was personal.

Whether or not we knew the people who perished, we mourned them as though they were our next of kin. We consumed the details of their lives, learning of their families, marriages and careers, their hopes and dreams, and mostly the circumstances (often unusual) that brought them to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In the years that followed, we designated pieces of our hearts to hold close our sorrow and recollections. We donated money to the families and marched for the rights of first responders. We devoted endless effort to honor the memories of those we lost.

And too we tried with every inch of our humanity to look past the terrorist’s glee. To rebuild a thriving city that was not bereft of hope. To instill in our children and grandchildren the knowledge that though despair might slow our steps it would never diminish our resolve.

But the calendar does not lie. Eleven years have passed since that sobering day, and yet there is none among us that doesn’t feel the nearness. That doesn’t remember the dust, the smells and the sirens. The panic of seeing fighter jets flying overhead. The din of newscasters reporting from what would be immediately named Ground Zero. The pleas from the mayor and governor to stay calm. The images of the firefighters, police and rescue workers valiantly looking for survivors or worse, remains. The wounded being carried by passersby. The severely wounded being stitched together by medical teams. The signs plastered on walls and telephone poles with the faces of the missing. Have you seen my husband? The unspoken fear that permeated the ash covered streets. 

Would we ever feel safe again?

As we mark this eleventh anniversary of the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, so poetically similar to the warm, bright Tuesday on which it occurred, it begs the question what have we learned?

Everything and nothing. Though our collective consciousness is mindful of stray backpacks and suspicious looking people boarding planes, we are still a city and a nation that lives under constant threat of violence. Sadly, politics as usual has led to a choke hold on sanity.

That is why my wish today is that we pay tribute to not only those who perished on September 11, but honor the brave souls who carry on their legacies. Where there is humanity there is hope.

And as writer? Instead of toiling over words today, I will instead bow my head in silent prayer. There but for the grace of God go I.


  1. A wise and poignant tribute, Saralee. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Eloquent post, Saralee. It is hard to believe it's been 11 years. It seems like so long ago, but I see the footage and pictures and it feels like it only happened a few days ago.

  3. Brought everything back, Saralee. So hard to believe 11 years have passed. Thank you for this smart, eloquent tribute. xo

  4. I agree--beautiful. I hadn't even realized today's date. It's good to pause and reflect.

  5. Yes, here today in Chicago, it is the same kind of warm, sunny fall day as it was that September 11. I remember thinking just how beautiful a day it was, and yet hundreds of miles away, people were succumbing to their deaths.

    Beautifully written.

  6. I was teaching 8th grade English in Richmond, VA. We happened to have the TV on. Everything else I have to say has been said. That day was a life-changer for all of us, everyone in the world. It was harrowing. I pray today for the victims, their families and their friends and that our country never knows again such disregard for human life.

  7. Nicely put. Thanks for sharing your reflections.

  8. Beautifully written, Saralee. Thanks so much for sharing your tribute...