September 11, 2002
We the people

We just observed a moment of silence here in our building to commemorate the terrorist attacks of a year ago. I didn't need to be asked to be silent - I was in the middle of reading Teresa Nielsen Hayden's remembrances, which had my full and undivided attention.

I'm from New York, but I haven't lived there in a long time. I have no direct connection to what happened on September 11 of last year, which is an obsequeous way of saying that none of my friends or family were killed by those fucking bastards. People still called and emailed me to ask how my family was. I was very grateful for that. My sister Eileen works for Mount Sinai Hospital up near the Guggenheim Museum. My sister-in-law Pamela was working for Morgan Stanley in their midtown office. I have two cousins, a cousin-in-law, and various friends who live and work in the Washington, DC area. All were thankfully miles away from Ground Zero and the Pentagon.

They were handing out lapel pins in the lobby this morning. I get to work at a ridiculously early hour, so I was at my desk before the pin distributors had gathered. One of them, a friend who works on my floor, came by a little while ago to offer me a pin, since she knew I wouldn't have gotten one. I thanked her and declined. It's just not my style.

When they sent us home last year, Tiffany and I sat on the couch and watched the TV news coverage. I really don't remember any of it. The only thing I remember is hugging my dog and wishing that my world were as simple and comprehensible as his.

I remember the trumpet player and the operatic NYPD officer who performed God Bless America during the seventh-inning stretch in the 2001 World Series. Moving as that was, I often longed for different music. America the Beautiful, as performed by Ray Charles. Aaron Copland's Lincoln Portrait. The Schoolhouse Rock rendition of the preamble to the Constitution:

We the people, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, ensure domsetic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of Liberty for ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

I can't tell you how often I sung those words to myself last autumn.

I have no wisdom about where we are today compared to then. I'm just glad we're here.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 11, 2002 to National news

I think we all will have our own ways to commemorate the day. As far as I'm concerned, my muse has taken the day off. I don't feel much like writing on my own weblog, but perusing other weblogs seems strangely comforting. Go figure....

Posted by: Jack Cluth on September 11, 2002 9:09 AM

Paisan! I thought I saw Stuyvesant High School mentioned in your archive somewhere. May I ask what year? (My brother is '64, my sister '77.) I don't think you meant to say "obsequious" (which you also misspelled, by the way) where you did -- it means "sucking-up." Maybe "oblique" (roundabout, indirect) was what you meant? Anyway, you can live in TX till doomsday, and you're still a transplanted New Yorker. It's the greatest city in the world; the only thing I'm prouder of than being a NYer is being from Brooklyn!:)

Posted by: Chris Quinones on September 12, 2002 1:00 AM

Stuy High Class of 1984. To the best of my knowledge, only one other member of my class went to college in Texas.

New Yorkers say I don't talk like a native any more, but my wife (a native Texan) says I still have the accent. You can't live in Texas for 18 years and not pick up some of the speech patterns, but a New York upbringing can never be truly overcome. :-)

Misspelling aside, I meant obsequious because using indirect language felt weaselly. In retrospect, "oblique" is probably the right word.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on September 12, 2002 7:07 AM