Editorial: Not yet time to let go

The Patriot Ledger

How do you forget the senseless deaths of thousands of innocent men, women and children?

How do you move on from the images of ash-covered survivors with vacant stares wandering through the soot as the World Trade Center behind them collapses?

How do you not still shudder at the thought that the military epicenter of our nation was attacked?

 How do you not shed a tear for the scores of children who were not picked up at day care that night six years ago because one or both parents were victims of a terrorist plot?

 How do you blank out stories of people leaping a thousand feet to their deaths to escape the flames?

 How do you deny the heroism of the passengers forcing down a plane headed to our nation’s capitol before it makes its target?

 The fact is we don’t and six years later, the pain is still fresh not only for survivors and victims’ families but for those of us who watched transfixed that sunny Tuesday morning when two passenger planes from Boston slammed into the World Trade Center, another plane flew into the Pentagon and a fourth was thwarted by civilians who said no, not this plane, not this time.

 Sept. 11 is, for the generations alive today, a seminal moment for our nation, our society, our culture and our souls. Much like Pearl Harbor, it was a launching point that brought us out of our isolated naivete, that feeling that no one would have the wherewithal to attack us on our own soil.

 And like Pearl Harbor, it is a day that everyone can recall where they were the moment they found out what happened.

 But unlike Pearl Harbor, the vast majority of those who died were not willing combatants but rather people who were going about their day-to-day lives, going to work, going to school, going home.

 It is too soon to forget them or what happened that day. As time moves on, so will we who have not been impacted like Christie Coombs or her daughters, who lost a husband and father on board one of the flights.

 And as the calendar rolls inevitably forward, decades down the line, the history books will be the place many will go for a recounting of what happened Sept. 11, 2001, much like it is for Pearl Harbor today, 66 years after the attack.

 But whether we mark it as a nation or as single individuals, in public displays patriotism or private moments of reflection, for many of us that morning in 2001 left indelibly seared images on our souls.

The deeper meaning, the historical context, the personal impact of that day and the wrenching days that followed can't be organized or legislated or, perhaps, even accurately chronicled.

But for so many of us in New England and beyond, Sept. 11 is a date that will always evoke breathless emotion. True shock and awe.

 And a sadness of some corner of the spirit that will never be consoled.