In my attempt to do everything today (work and attend over six hours of meetings), I sat in the closest cubicle next to the conference room for the bi-weekly staff meeting so I could strum on my keyboard and listen.
Here in DC, we’re an interesting office—I describe us often as a family. We live an open office lifestyle: we hear each other’s phone conversations (and follow-up with an email when we hear our name being said), and we celebrate every birthday, new arrival and sad departure. But the biggest reason why we’re a family is that we care about each other, deeply. A day doesn't go by where regardless of how busy our family is we sincerely care about how each other are doing.
The staff/family meeting started traditionally enough, with a moment to talk with your neighbor about summer activities and what one did over the weekend, but on this not-so-random Tuesday in September, we took a moment to reflect on Sept. 11, 2001.
The executive director said a few words and implied that we should take a moment, right there, in silence. What happened next, though, is the moment of silence turned into sharing, out loud… I stopped strumming.
We all know Sept. 11, 2001; it’s the day when 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four planes and attacked the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and United Flight 93 that crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania when the passengers attempted to take over control.
What I heard next from my family moved me: Sept. 11 was a Tuesday, just like today. Sept. 11 was a clear and cool, crisp morning with a welcoming big-blue sky, just like today. People remembered where they were – walking to work, working at different organizations and with different co-workers, or taking their kids to school – and I remembered where I was, just a youngster in the eighth grade who walked out of English class and into the chaos of chatter in my Science class… and then, my teacher turned the TV on.
Eleven years later, myself, and the family that I continued to listen to, had not forgotten the moments of fear and overall uncertainty of 9/11. Eleven years later, one co-worker reflected on how he would tell his kids about where he was on that day. Eleven years later, another co-worker shared that she knew two people who died in the WTC, they were college roommates from Hawaii.
But 11-years later, we all also reflected on hope. Go and experience the memorials in DC and New York , the ceremonies and the flags, and cherish the moments of sharing where you were and why it’s important to remember—for our nation and for ourselves.
We are working professionals. But we are also a diverse family and during those few moments as I listened, almost like an outsider to my own family, I was reminded that as a nation, our greatest strength is remembering that moving onward and upward together is what we can do for the fallen—today and every day that passes—and to let the blue skies and cool air heal us all with time.