9/11, Year 11

11 years ago this morning, I was asleep after a long night shift and really didn’t want to be bothered for a plane crash in New York.  I knew it would be on the news later, no need to get up now.  When my mom said another one crashed I was mildly stirred, but grumbled again that I’d see it later.  When she came back and said a third plane crashed in a whole other state, I finally understood that something was very wrong.  My family and I stared at the TV for hours, mesmerized, watching every piece of that awful story unfold.  In the days and weeks that followed, a hush fell over the entire country.  People were quiet everywhere we went.  An entire country in mourning is a strange but oddly comforting thing.  We all lost something, whether it was a person or an idea.  Sharing that loss with millions of people connected us all, made us strong.  We cried openly in public, but we stood taller and firmer, with more dignity and pride in our country than I’d ever known in my lifetime.

It was months, maybe a year, before I could listen to a patriotic song without bursting into tears.  “God Bless the USA” was a popular one to play at public events.  As soon as I heard the first few strains of the melody I’d well up.  Memorials always get me emotional, too, and I know I share this with my fellow millions.  I was okay today: no tears or much emotion, until I came across this picture:

David Reed Gambora-Brandhorst

A former coworker took this at the 9/11 memorial in New York, built over the site of the fallen Twin Towers. Three-year-old David was in the second plane to hit the towers, with his parents, Ron and Dan.  This would break the heart of anyone that has one, but what turned on the waterworks for me was his birthdate:  David was exactly one month older than my son, Andrew.


This one.  This lanky 14-year-old who knows and loves all things Dr. Who, will do anything to impress a girl, wants to form an improve group with his friends, has a wicked sense of humor, and would shrivel up and perish if something happened to his beloved iTouch.  David might have been this way today.  What is more profound to me, though, is that David could be any teenager.  He could spend his Friday nights sitting on the curb at the local farmer’s market, or on a picnic table in a nearby park, with his feet on the bench, the way our neighborhood kids do.  He could be complaining about wearing a bowtie in this heat before a piano recital.  He might be slouching behind his dads en route to his grandparents’ house, secretly happy to get homemade Filipino food.  David should be a contemporary of my son, and his fathers should have as much grey hair as I do.  That is what broke my heart today.

I found this wonderful blog post, In Honor of David Reed Gamboa-Brandhorst, about David and his family.

Be gentle to each other today.


4 thoughts on “9/11, Year 11

  1. I must confess that to this day, I’m still traumatized by the events of that day. I can’t watch any shows documenting the losses of that day. I’m not sure that I’ll ever get over it, but then again, I’m not sure I should.

    • I was in a Terrorism Awareness class a few years ago, aimed specifically at dispatchers. We listened to two 911 calls made from the towers. The callers were not survivors. Absolutely devastating.

  2. On this anniversary of 9/11, my husband and I watched a special on the history channel, a compilation of amateur film accounts of that day. These were everyday people on the streets of NYC that morning who happened to be in the midst of it all and documented the devastation around them. Their videos made the news versions seem sanitized. Heartbreaking all over again.

    This is a beautiful piece, beautifully written. What a tribute to David and his parents and all the others who died that day. It’s hard to grasp why terrible things happen to others and not to us. “There but for the grace of God go I” is a refrain that always runs through my head and makes me think, at least for a moment, that my presence on this earth must count for something every day. Being here carries with it great responsibility.

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