September 11th is a hard day for me. It’s a hard day for many. Although, it’s also a day of celebration of the human spirit, overcoming incredible adversity, the value of unity, and the realization that we’re more powerful than we realize.
My favorite example of the later is from my friend Dirk Stanley, CMIO at UConn Health. I won’t repeat his story here since we’ve shared it before, but take a minute to watch the video we shared previously and you’ll start to understand why I love Dirk so much. Today, he shared on Facebook that we should rename this day “Never-Let-Hate-Grow Day.” Dirk is the epitome of someone who lives this every day. If you’re into clinical informatics and health IT, be sure to check out Dirk Stanley’s CMIO Perspective blog. He just passed 500,000 hits and deserves a few million more.
On social media, everyone seems to be sharing where they were 19 years ago today. As they say, you’ll never forget. I was in college at the time and arrived at the campus data center where I worked just after the first plane hit the tower. When I arrived to work they had the news on the TV and there was smoke rising from one of the World Trade Center towers in NYC. It wasn’t clear at the time what had happened. We definitely didn’t know that a plane had been flown into the tower. I assumed it was something internal that had happened. Then, the image of the plane was shared. My heart dropped.
To be honest, I’m not sure my brain could really process what was happening. A million things passed through my head as I tried to understand what was happening. Then, the second plane hit. It was clear that something more was happening.
I was transfixed on the TV. I couldn’t look away as the various news rolled in of other planes at the Pentagon and in a field. Worked seemed trivial and how could I focus when this was happening in the world? At least one other guy and possibly others were working in the data center room with me. I remember him just working away, making calls, working on tickets, etc. I couldn’t understand how he could just keep working while this was happening, but maybe that’s how he copes with tragedy.
The most shocking part of the whole experience was when the towers fell. It was hard to comprehend that this was possible. The loss of life. The first responders. The loss of normalcy.
The rest of the day is pretty much a blur for me. I remember going to class and the mixed feelings of wanting to carry on while also not being sure how to carry on amidst such tragedy. Never forget indeed.
In my house, I’m actually the only one that really experienced 9/11. My kids were born well after 9/11 and my wife was on a mission for our church in Guatemala, disconnected from most of what was happening. She knew that something happened and got a few details in Guatemala, but for years after she would watch the remembrance of 9/11 and turn to me in surprise when she learned the details of what really happened.
While I often read of people longing for 9/12 when the world came together in a way we hadn’t experienced in my lifetime, that’s actually what gives me hope amidst everything that’s happening with COVID. I look around me and see so many good people. No doubt, the world is in a crazy place, but 9/11 reminds me that out of the ashes of pain and heartache can come great triumph and renewal.
Thanks for letting me share.