Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Teaching remembrance

It's hard to believe that 9-11 happened twelve years ago already. I think once we reached the "decade" mark, in a way it has started to feel like a distant memory -- while in other ways, it still feels like just yesterday. And now that I live here in Texas, it feels a little more distant still. I know if I were still in New York City that life would be going on as usual - but there would be more in-your-face reminders to take pause at -- from all the flowers piled up at the fire stations and extra police in the subways to the new Freedom Tower where the WTC once stood.  And to be sure, I'm definitely not advocating not moving on, but I think it's important to take some time out to respect and reflect on this day no matter where you live, and to teach the importance of remembering this day to our kids, even though they weren't even in existence in the remote recesses of our brains at that point in time.

Up until this point, T has been too young to do anything. He still might be in theory, but this year, I took him along on my own personal act of remembrance. Every year, I take flowers to the closest fire station. It's just a little thing that I like to do. I started doing this in 2001 like many other New Yorkers when I felt so helpless and had the need to do something - anything - to show I cared. In the years I lived in the city, the sidewalks in front of the fire stations were always piled high with flowers on this day - as I am sure they still are. It's a little different here in Austin. Here, half the time I end up  dropping them off and driving off as fast as humanly possible because oddly enough, I find it a little embarrassing to do. It might have something to do with the fact that one year, the fireman that was there when I dropped off the flowers seemed to have no clue why he was receiving them.  This year though, since T is obsessed with fire trucks and firemen (in fact, we just booked his birthday party for this year at a fire station*) I thought it could be a learning experience for him to come with me and say "thank you." So I talked about it with him before hand, and he was pretty happy to be getting to go on a post-school trip to the fire station to say thank you to the firemen. Unfortunately, of all days, today the garage doors were shut and there were no firemen to be found. So we left the flowers at the door and said "thank you firemen" to nobody -- but it felt pretty good to pass along a little do-good moment to my crazy toddler.

*Yes, his birthday is in December and I booked the space yesterday. We know I'm a tad anal.

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