As I mentioned, I started feeling the weight of the anniversary yesterday as I drove to work. It dissipated thanks to the ticket I got for speeding (see below), but it came back with a vengeance as I watched NBC last night.
There were interviews with survivors and relatives of victims of the attacks, and one of the interviews was with a widow who had been on the phone with her husband as the north tower collapsed. As she told of how they spent the last moments saying "I love you" over and over, I kept squeezing Kathy's hand and thinking of what would have happened if I had been in that building, assured of dying, and talking with my beloved but unable to touch her in my last moments. I cried for a good while afterwards.
This morning, I came to work and rolled into Staunton about 8:35am. While I was on the interstate, I tried listening to John Boy and Billy, as I did when I woke up one year earlier, but I couldn't take it. Instead I switched over to the more sober goings-on on NPR. When I parked in the municipal garage, I went out walking.
It was quiet in town, and I walked a couple of blocks towards the Presbyterian church. At 8:46 the church bells began to ring, a tolling that I always associated with funerals. They went on for more than a minute, then went silent. After a few more seconds of near silence, the stillness was broken by a bugler playing "taps". I hurriedly walked in the direction of the bugle and found it, on the campus of Mary Baldwin College. What looked like the entire campus was gathered around the half-staff flagpole, obvously observing the events of a year ago.
I know there were some people who were saying that they would not be pausing, mourning and observing this day, remarking that the best thing to do is to "live life normally". However, I think the best thing we could do today as Americans was just exactly what we did. Some of us remebering the dead, some of us doing the work of the living. This is one thing I love about this nation; the fact that we could mark this anniversary however we chose, or choose not to.
God bless America,