When I arrive to work each morning, I generally have to not write, even if only for few minutes, so that I can remember what I'm lucky enough to get paid to do, and that I better start doing it. This morning, September 11th, 2012, I decided to see who was best covering the tragedy that struck New York City, and the rest of this country eleven years ago.
DrudgeReport forcefully blared a giant photo of an exploding tower, CNN delicately showed Barack and Michelle standing silently, and Fox News, good old troublemaking love to hate 'em Fox News, provided an easy to spot link to stream this year's memorial, live from ground zero.
After a finger-wagging from me for making me sit through a full 30 second commercial before viewing the live stream, I began watching a crystal clear clear shot of people holding photos and large poster board signs, as former and current government officials began to arrive.
Three and a half hours later, after the final notes of "Taps," I put my computer to sleep, and went to eat lunch alone, outside in my car.
To my coworkers, or bosses that find this blog entry - no, I didn't just kill 3 hours while you all worked, I minimized the window and only listened as I wrote about UDIDs, Anonymous, Apple, and the FBI.
I vaguely remember the first anniversary of 9/11, which I was in New York for, trying to find an apartment for my newlywed wife and I to move into. I read somewhere that all 2,700+ names of the people who died were read aloud individually, and I thought it was a really nice gesture. It wasn't one that I expected to see networks televise year after year, it takes a long time to read that many names, and, I don't know, it just doesn't seem the major networks' style.
As the first names began being read, and the two women who began them both began to choke up, I found myself praying that no one tapped me on the shoulder, forcing me to remove my headphones. Partly because my eyes were welling up, but mostly because at only 10 or so names in, I'd already challenged myself to not miss a single one.
Sorry to kill the suspense, but due to the fact that by 8:30 this morning I was already on my 4th cup of coffee - I did have to get up to pee two times during the roll call, but that was it.
As the first two women reached the end of their list, one of them said "And my husband..." stated his name, and then told a story about how she missed the breakfasts he would make for their family each Sunday morning, and how he would always use their finest china. I was a little taken aback in that the lady kind of went on for a while about her loss, and the lady by her side only said "And my cousin" then stated his name, and the pair walked from the stage. I wondered if the first lady had taken more time than she was allotted, but I understood. Who is going to come out and remove someone so grief stricken from the podium, someone who lost a loved one 11 years ago, and is still so upset at their loss.
Through the next 2,700 names, mothers & fathers, sisters and brothers, husbands and wives, and children...approached the podium and read the names of those that they never knew, and the name of someone they did know. Or in the saddest cases, the name of someone who they were too young to know - 11 years ago today.
Between connecting the similarities of the recent rash of people making false hacking claims, and the rise of cyber-terrorism in the Middle East, I hastily jotted down the memories that stuck with me the most:
"You were my big brother, my hero."
"I love you to the moon and back"
"And to my two sons..."
"In case you can't see them, your brothers are at the cemetery drinking their Budweisers like they do every year"
"Let's love each other, just a little bit more."
"You would be so proud of your wife, and she's raising your sons. They emulate you more and more every day."
"Your crazy Irish spirt lives on, Ma."
"And my boyfriend..."
"May we never forget, nor forgive those responsible."
When the names were finished being read, a young chorus sang a song I'd never heard, "Taps" was played on trumpets to a silent crowd, and then I heard an off camera producer say "Permission to cut 1,2,3" and the stream stopped. I put my computer to sleep, grabbed my lunch, and walked quietly out of the office.
As I sat in my car, I placed my head on my steering wheel, wept, and begged for the strength, the patience, and the opportunity to mean so much to the people in my life that I'm blessed to be around today, and the gift of each day forward.
I'll be listening again next year, and I'll hopefully be lucky enough to attend the roll call in person someday. You should, too.