Today is September 11, 2020. It’s been nineteen years since that day, and a generation has passed. I’ve lived through my own challenging experiences, while trying to be mindful that we’ve all suffered from that terrible shock and loss. Walk with me, backwards in time, to share some of the ironic moments and thoughtful actions that make this day so special.
Since my stroke (February 2017) I’ve wanted to play the pipes, but I can’t. Despite ground breaking therapy and three-and-a-half years of hard (and constant) work, I still don’t have sufficient movement on my right side—my stroke robbed me of that! But the chance is still there! It’s just out of reach. I’m working with the therapists from Spaulding Rehab and the engineers from MIT and Tufts, and we’re getting closer. It’s assistive technology on steroids!
For about 15 years (until my stroke) I’d play at the 9/11 memorial in Marblehead, and then fill my day with other appropriate piping opportunities. My favorite event was piping at a restaurant in Salem, which was bought and managed by a Marblehead couple. They had lost their son on 9/11 in NYC, and took the money they were paid in settlement to buy the restaurant!
During the Marblehead service (circa 2015), firefighter and Captain Betsy Wilson was to recite the firefighters prayer, and before she did, she took off her helmet and set it on the ground before her. It represented the 343 firefighters who lost their lives on 9/11.
Going further back, from 2005 through 2010, I’d walk up to Crocker Park and play from 8:46 am until 9:03 am. That was the period of time between the two plane strikes in Manhattan. Many folks came up and listened, and this photo was taken by one fellow who hunted me down later to give it to me.
But the memory that stands out most in my mind is from 2004. I’ve desribed it below.
I looked out at the pillars of light blazing up at us, where the towers had once stood, and I realized that this memorial was as much for those in the air as it was for those on the ground. Passengers on the left side of the plane got up so everyone had a chance to see it. While some had been sleeping or dozing before, now soft conversation filled the darkened cabin. Most reminisced about where they were three years ago when it happened. The flight attendants spoke quietly among themselves about friends and colleagues who’d been lost (this was a United flight).