Last year, I was in South Africa with three amazing ladies helping do research on penguins on Robben Island. I will never forget that trip or the experience, but there is one night in particular that I will never forget. We had just come back from doing some work in the field and were prepping for dinner. Leisha, our group leader had already started the brai and the fire was strong. It was a cold night and so we all huddled around the fire warming our hands against the heat while chatting. At some point the conversation turned to September 11th and that is when one of our members, an amazing woman, told us that her brother had died in one of the towers that day. I remember her tearing up as she talked about him and my immediate reaction was to turn and hug her. That moment connected us in a way that I don’t think we had connected during the first few days of the trip. Hearing her story, made September 11th all the more real to me. It removed my feelings of the day and made me aware of the feelings of those directly impacted-those who lost loved ones then and continue to do so now (clean up crew workers).
As a New Yorker, I remember exactly what I was doing and where I was on September 11, 2001. I mean, who doesn’t? But I can tell you that the fall of those towers took a piece of me. Not because I knew anyone in particular in the towers, but because I had grown up until the age of 11 looking at those towers and loving them. My aunt till this day reminds me of how when I was a child, I would ask that we drive on the highway that would have us pass lower Manhattan so that I could see the Twin Towers. To me the Twin Towers were as cool as the 5th Avenue Library thanks to “Ghostbusters”.
After my family moved to Ohio in 1994, I would take summer trips back to NY to visit my cousins. On one trip, a relative took my two cousins and I to the Twin Towers and we took the elevator up to the observation deck and looked out. It wasn’t the clearest of days, but it was still cool to see what I did see (I wonder where my pictures are from that trip). It was one of the coolest days of my life (we also were taken to see the Library and I found out that slimer was not hiding out in the basement).
It took me a year before I could visit NYC again after that day and now, as a New Yorker again, I attempt to avoid the site at all costs. Not because I dislike it, but because my heart feels empty when I see it, or when I watch tourists take pictures of a giant hole in the ground. It just makes me sad. It reminds me that people still hate and that while we may have moved on, time has not healed wounds.
However, now that the 10th anniversary of September 11th approaches, our government has declared it a day of remembrance and service. They are asking the American people to give time in honor of the courageous acts made by many in the aftermath of the tragedy and to remember the lives of those who died. I love this message and intend to do what my country has asked.
This weekend, I will remain in NYC and I will go about my daily life (I plan to run 10 or 12 miles tomorrow morning as part of marathon training), but I also am volunteering (thanks to NY Cares– an amazing volunteer organization) to make cards for military families. The project involves volunteers working together to design cards for children and spouses associate with Blue Star Families, an organization dedicated to serving the children and spouses of military men and women serving abroad. It is fitting that this volunteer activity aligns with the message of S2 Stationery and Design, but I was drawn to it because of my friends who are married to military men and because my best guy friend is in the Army and has been deployed twice-it connects me to them.
The card (is a bit on the patriotic side) is FREE and only requires that you print out on your own and write away. It is available on Etsy as well, but unfortunately I had to add a $.20 price to it, so it may just download it from above. You can also email me at saras [at] s2stationery [dot] com if need be.
That’s it! There is absolutely nothing in this for me aside from the hope that those who do use this and do this have a private space to reflect.
I’ll be back next week to share my volunteer experience with you readers. Until then, enjoy your weekend and spread love.