A few days ago my 6 year old son was looking at some items on our bookshelf and asked, “What’s this?”
He was holding up a small piece of concrete in a plastic bag. I answered, “It’s a piece of history.” My son replied, “Oh Dad” because he didn’t think I was being serious.
I was being serious and that piece of history is from the World Trade Center. It was given to me while I was deployed overseas after 9-11. One night, while we were working very late, a fellow soldier came over and handed me a small plastic bag which contained a note and a piece of concrete. He said, “I want you to have this. Take it.” I did, and he walked away.
When I opened it up, I read the note and held the a piece of concrete. The FBI had sent over several small pieces that had been cleared from Ground Zero because they thought it would increase our morale and remind us of our purpose.
I kept this piece of concrete next to my Bible, which was the same Bible my grandfather had used in World War II. I did some considerable thinking holding the two at the same time.
My son is still too young to know, much less understand, what happened eleven years ago. I do not yet know how I will explain it to him, or a few years later, to my one year old daughter. And I’m reminded by what one of my best friends in the Army said to me on the afternoon of September 11th – “How do I explain this to my boy?” His son was a little older than mine is today.
This day means so many different things to people. For me, it put then, and continues to put, life into harsh perspective about what is truly important.
With that in mind, I’ll share with you this anecdote about the sister of one of my Air National Guard buddies. From time to time, she would post life lessons on her children’s doors. One of them read, “Don’t wait for tragedy, say it today. I love you and I’m glad you’re alive.”
She was a flight attendant on Flight 11.