the things they carried
This photo was taken at the Fresh Kills landfill, the place where all the debris from the World Trade Center made its final stop. Wedding rings, watches, gold bands, all once worn by someone very much alive.
When people ask why I still feel so much pain and anger two years later, why I spend so much emotion on that day when people die every single day, they only need to look at this picture. 3,000 people. One day. One hour. All dead.
There are their wedding rings. Their watches and gold chains, some given to its owner by a lover or mother or friend. Some worn as mere dressing, some worn as testaments to love and honor. Earrings that were carefully picked out that morning, bracelets put on in a hurry as someone rushed to catch a train.
These items speak of the humans they belonged to. People with lives and families and jewelry boxes sitting on dressers, filled with trinkets to wear on another day, a day that would never come.
Imagine if all that was left of someone you loved was a wedding band sitting in a box in a landfill. Imagine if someone you loved or even just liked left for work one day and never came home because some zealots on a mission used their office, their building to send a terrible, devastating message. Imagine if all that was left of them was a segment of a gold chain they had worn that day.
Wouldn't you be angry? Wouldn't you feel pain? Would you expect that the pain would subside two years later?
Are you a free person? Are you an American? If so, then put yourself in those buildings on September 11, 2001. Put yourself in the Pentagon or on a plane flying over Pennsylvania. Because those pieces of jewelry? They belong to you, too. It wasn't an attack on a middle-aged clerical worker filing away papers that morning. It was an attack on all of us who value freedom, who value democracy.
Look again at those rings and bracelets and chains. Think about them lying in a box at Fresh Kills. Think about who they once belonged to. They belong to you, now. That is our legacy. To forget, to move on, to let that day slide into the back of our minds like just another Tuesday morning is to forget that the death of 3,000 people was directed at all of us, not just them.