Last year I traveled to Vermont and New Hampshire visiting friends and will be attended a reunion in Bethlehem, NH, on the 9/11 weekend. This year I will be flying on 9/11, taking a flight to Newark and thence to Orlando for a meeting. I can't recall flying on 9/11 since Ann was murdered. I have not consciously avoided it; that's just the way it turned out.
I wrote the following five years ago, on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Can't improve on it, so here it is again. Hard to believe the 15th anniversary is upon us.
I have not had time to read much email and this is the first time I have turned on my computer since the morning of 10 September, so I am not plugged in very well. Perhaps that is good.
I will be avoiding all the 'specials' on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Not interested in all the contrived 'linkages' between 9/11 and the guy who collects trash in Toledo who found an image of the burning Pentagon in some dumpster or the football player who has the Twin Towers tattooed on his biceps. Sorry.
My desk is littered with magazines whose covers shout features like "Where Have We Been?", "What Went Wrong?", "Are We Safer?", "Why Do They Hate Us?", blah, blah, blah, I can't read any of them. I should say I can't finish any of them.
Actually, I did read one excellent article: "What 9/11 Wrought" by Joseph Lelyveld in the current issue of Smithsonian magazine. Read it.
As much as I despise those who rained death upon us, I don't like what we have become. Xenophobes. Jingoes. Torturers. What moral authority the USA had, it's been greatly diminished.
I'm driving to Seattle today for a meeting tomorrow and Tuesday. When I had planned to drive it did not dawn on me that it would be on 9/11. Flying today wouldn't bother me, but it will be nice to be on the road for about five hours. No media folks trying to get a sound bite.
But let me give a shout-out to the first responders, many of whom made the ultimate sacrifice to save others. And Pat Tillman.
I will always remember that these men, as well as 10 of the other 14 murderers, were Saudi Arabians. The other four were nationals of the UAE (2), Lebanon, and Egypt.
When we buy Saudi oil, some of our money goes to organizations that support these kinds of people.
We should never forget that.
Below you can see what what my niece Becky and I left in Ann's memory. The Marlboro Lights and Diet Coke should have been accompanied by a fifth (or more) of Dewar's Scotch but we exercised some good judgment - we left a Dewar's ad from a magazine. Besides, Ann would have wanted us to consume it.
I've been to the memorial thrice and it is a remarkable place. It's open 24/7.
Below are some pictures, including Ann's bench and her name carved in stone at the entrance.
In August 2009 I had a nice long visit. I sat on her bench and said "God bless!" to the other 183 murdered heroes who are memorialized, including the three middle-school students and their teachers Ann and NGS colleague Joe Ferguson were escorting to Los Angeles to join others for a field trip to the Channel Islands. It was the students' first airplane trip.
Here are more pictures.
Next time I vist I'll bring some Diet Coke, a pack of Marlboro Lights, and maybe a bottle of Dewar's. Those were three of Annie's favorite things.
One thing gnaws at me: what were Ann's last moments like? Was she aware that they were going to crash? She must have - she was an experienced flyer who'd flown out of DC airports many times. She knew they were flying too fast and too low. And they were going in the wrong direction to be landing at DCA. Did she die on impact or suffer? Was she comforting the children? Probably.
Somewhat morbid, I know.
I have her effects in a box (Mary Frances had this custom-built for me) in our library - her driver's license, some business cards, etc. It's amazing how well they survived the conflagration. She was incinerated but her business cards survived.
Here is an article about the foundation I created to honor Ann.
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." -- attributed to Edmund Burke
"A little bit of irreverence is good. A lot is better." -- Ann Campana Judge