I went to the Rochester Vietnam Memorial today. I woke up to 9/11 remembrances. I was very conscious of the time all morning. As the day progressed, I remembered what I was doing in 2001, what I said, what happened. In the afternoon, I concentrated more on work. I had a complicated problem to solve. After work, I realized that I still had a complicated problem to solve. There are aspects of 9/11 that are somewhat unapproachable for me.
That afternoon in 2001, I just wanted some kind of normalcy, so I picked up a repair ticket and headed over to the 9th grade building. It was Just a temperamental printer in the technology lab. As I entered the lab, the students were listening to music on the radio. They were pretty rowdy… The teacher wasn’t in the room. I felt angry at their laughter. I bit my lip and started working on the printer. As the song ended, the local news came on the radio. One of the kids near me shouted above the din.
“QUIET! I want to hear the news, we might not have school tomorrow.”
I turned on him and hissed “Is that all you care about, getting a day off? Don’t you understand what’s happened?”
“Hey! It’s not like there’s going to be a war or anything…”
“We’re ALREADY at war!” I couldn’t unhinge my jaw after yelling it and the room was suddenly blurry. Very quiet, too. I wiped my eyes, and saw everyone staring at me. I rushed out of the room and went home a half hour early.
2006, 2001, 1996. Today, on the same station, I heard that the Rochester Vietnam Memorial observed its 10th anniversary yesterday. The symmetry of the years made today the right time for me to visit the memorial. I thought I could find some perspective there that I couldn’t in 2006. This was an old loss, after all. Many of the dates are before I was born. Surely this place represented acceptance and Peace.
The loss and grief are still there, though. I felt it right away when I saw the 4 chairs next to the tree. Despite so many people being represented there, it’s a lonely place. Each Billet stands alone, and I had to restrain myself from taking pictures of every single one. I do have a new perspective on 9/11 now, just not the one I set out to find this afternoon.