For obvious reasons, it was impossible to read anything, look at anything, or go anywhere on September 11, 2011 and not see some kind of memorial or tribute to the attacks of September 11, 2001. The fact that it was the 10th anniversary was covered to the extreme. There is nothing wrong with this, and I thought about writing about it myself. At the end though, my story wouldn't really have been interesting. I could say where I was, how I found out, etc, but my story is so insignificant compared to the countless others, that it wouldn't have mattered. Instead I want to talk about September 11, 2011, not 2001, and what the 10th anniversary felt like.
I woke up after the memorials had started, but I had set up the Global and CNN broadcasts to record on my DVR. I didn't watch the entirety of either broadcast, but what I did watch was very emotional. There were some pictures and videos not shown for 10 years, and it was kind of hard to watch some of them. It sends shivers down my spine just like it did 10 years ago, and the thought of what those people went through on that day is something I can barely comprehend.
The September 11 memorial in New York looks amazing, and it is something that I hope to visit one day. The reflecting pools look beautiful, and looking at all of the names in the bronze perimeters of the fountains is something I would like to see. The whole memorial site looks beautiful, and I think that the planners have done a wonderful job with it.
I also spent a lot of the day reading posts on Twitter about 9/11. (As a side note, it's hard to believe that 10 years ago Twitter and Facebook didn't exist. How much different would 9/11 have been if it had happened now?). Reading some of the stories of people who were in NEw York, or near New York was amazing. There are countless stories, and reading a few of them yesterday reminded me just how much that day changed everything.
The most powerful story I heard I actually heard on my local news. It was about a firefighter in New York who was actually on vacation on September 11, so he was not one of the thousands that were at ground zero. His brother, also a firefighter was, and was one of the firefighters who died that day. On September 12, that firefighter was at ground zero, helping to look for survivors and bodies in the rubble. As he was searching that day, he found his brother's helmet in the rubble. I tried to think about what that moment would have been like for him, but I simply can't even imagine what must have gone through his mind. 10 years later and he still has that helmet, it is the only thing from his brother that he has. That is only one story of loss out of that day, but one of the more powerful ones I have ever heard, and one that I'll probably never forget.
Both the NFL and CFL had wonderful tributes, including the Winnipeg Blue Bombers playing the American national anthem for their game. Every stadium had a moment of silence. In the NFL stadiums, fans changed "U-S-A" after the anthems.
One of my favourite moments of the day came on the NFL Sunday Night Football game. The New York Jets played a home game in prime time on September 11th to celebrate the day. Players and coaches on for both the Jets and the Dallas Cowboys wore FDNY hats on the sidelines, President George W. Bush performed the coin toss, and during the national anthem a massive American flag covered the entire field, reaching each team's sidelines (100 x 55 yards). Players and coaches from both teams held onto the American flag during the anthem, which was a very powerful sight to see.
The other major sports league, MLB, made a very unfortunate mis-step for their game. The New York Mets were playing at home on September 11, and the Mets' players wanted to wear NYPD and FDNY hats for that game. MLB forbid the team from doing that, citing "uniform consistency" rules. That would have been a wonderful way for the MLB, and the Mets, to commemorate September 11, and the MLB made a pretty big and unforgivable mistake by not allowing a simple gesture like a hat to be worn. MLB should have taken it as an opportunity to do good. A picture of a Mets pitcher standing on the mound in a FDNY hat could have been an iconic picture on this day. I respect the MLB a little less today than I did yesterday, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.
September 11, 2011 was a special day, but in many ways it was a normal day, which is the way it should be. There is no disputing that September 11 changed the world forever. And 10 years later, it was appropriate to have a large memorial and day of remembrance. And now with the opening of the permanent memorial, it is time to move forward, even though we'll never really be able to move on.