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September 11th, 2008
07:03 PM ET

Erica’s News Note: To Remember

Editor's Note:
We are devoting many posts today to the anniversary of 9/11, with first-hand accounts, insight, and commentary dedicated to that day seven years ago that changed our world.
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Erica Hill
AC360° Correspondent

This is my first 9/11 in New York. Everywhere I go today – the bank, the park, the subway – I can’t help but wonder what the people around me are feeling and thinking on this somber anniversary. Were they downtown that morning? Did they lose someone they loved on that terrible day? Are they also new to NY, scanning the faces of their neighbors, wondering what the protocol is?

On our family walk this morning, we witnessed something incredibly moving by chance…and feel lucky to have been a part of it. Making our way uptown, we noticed Riverside Drive was closed, and there were a number of firefighters on our path wearing their dress uniforms. Initially I figured they were coming from a memorial ceremony somewhere downtown. I’d forgotten about the beautiful monument in Riverside Park dedicated to New York’s Bravest: the Firefighters.

As they assembled near the Firemen’s Memorial, I couldn’t help but search the faces of these brave men and women for a hint of their memories, their stories from that painful day. A few of them met my gaze with kind eyes. I wanted to thank them, to tell them how sorry I am that they have to relive this day each year, to ask them what this morning is like for them, and to apologize for intruding. I looked at the young women in pretty floral skirts and wondered if they were her to remember a husband lost on September 11th. I saw a woman about my mother’s age standing toward the back – was she here to honor the memory of her son?

As the names of the 343 firefighters and paramedics killed that day were read, the silence was oddly comforting. It felt right to be in this place, at this moment, remembering and honoring the fallen in our own ways. As my son went back and forth between my husband and myself, we each hugged him a little tighter, gave him an extra kiss and silently told him that he is everything to us. I watched the toddlers playing at the feet of their parents, and felt hopeful. I imagine these children growing up with this annual ceremony, knowing the bravery, the sacrifice, and the indescribable bond their parents will forever share with their lost brothers.

I am honored to have chanced upon this memorial this morning, although I doubt it was truly by chance. Thank you to the brave men and women who allowed us to be a part of it, and who selflessly protect us every day.

soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Sherry

    Thank you. I felt as if I was there through your observations.

    September 11, 2008 at 10:19 pm |
  2. Annie Kate

    Erica

    Thank you for sharing your experience today; it was incredibly touching. Your eloquence in your writing leaves very little for the rest of us to say except to thank you for including us in your experience by telling us about it.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    September 11, 2008 at 9:45 pm |
  3. Megan Dresslar

    Hello Erica,
    You're right, it is very moving, and very powerful message...... My hearts go to all of victim's family, fighters, sons, daughters, and parents who lost their love ones. I felt so sadden for 7 years now. and thanks for sharing me for your story. I am so appericate that. I hope you will know when they are here with your heart....... See you soon......
    Megan D.
    Shoreline, Wa

    September 11, 2008 at 9:36 pm |
  4. Heather- Edmonton Canada

    Hi Erica
    Simply and eloquently said- Thank you for sharing a touching moment.

    September 11, 2008 at 9:26 pm |
  5. Alexis

    Thank you for the beautiful thoughts & words, Erica.

    September 11, 2008 at 7:50 pm |
  6. Lorie Ann, Buellton, California

    Hi Erica,
    Thanks for this very moving post today. I can't add much of a comment. I think you said it all.

    Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif.

    September 11, 2008 at 7:43 pm |
  7. Jennifer - Michigan

    Hi Erica, Touching blog today; isn't it funny how life can be sometimes? It wasn't by chance, you were meant to be there today. It must have been something to see all those great people – their mission to protect and serve. Very nice – it was such a beautiful day today too – that fresh fall smell was in the air. It was a great day. See you later.

    September 11, 2008 at 7:34 pm |
  8. Eugenia-San Francisco, Ca

    Thank you for sharing your experience this morning, unless you are actually looking in the eyes of the people who were there and lost love ones you can not get the full emotion of the rememberance of that day.

    Although the events of September 11, 2001 were shocking and heartbreaking, this day also holds other meanings. Just think how many babies were born on that actual day, they are 7 years old now and will never truly understand how this day effected the lives of every American. I know people with this birthday that have been treated differently because their birthday is September 11, and sometimes not very kind. To all that have this day as a birthday:
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY AND I WISH YOU THE BEST!

    September 11, 2008 at 7:28 pm |
  9. Lynda C. from KCMO

    All i can say is WOW. This article made me cry, smile and stop. Thank you Erica for sharing.

    September 11, 2008 at 7:20 pm |