As we commemorate the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, I find myself thinking about tragedy and the way that people come together during such crises. Of course, it’s not to say that one would ever advocate or wish for atrocities; rather, it is simply to acknowledge that in the face of these horrific events, be they acts of terrorism or the wrath of Mother Nature, a silver lining unfolds whereby the “survivors” pull together in a show of support, in an act of defiance, in a very human way to build community.
As a child, I recall my parents telling me that they knew exactly where they were the day President John F. Kennedy was shot. They always said they remembered it like it was yesterday – still do. Similarly, I recall exactly where I was on that fateful September morning twelve years ago. My mobile phone kept ringing and I kept ignoring it as I was ensconced in an “important” breakfast meeting. When the meeting was finished, there were a host of voice messages awaiting me saying that something bad had happened… “an airplane crashed into the World Trade Center.” Bewildered, I went in to work at Sprint, stood in the cafeteria where there was a television and the rest of the story began to unfold.
And then the first tower fell.
I, like many, let out an audible gasp. My knees buckled. My family and I, all in Kansas City, were desperately trying to reach my brother, Eric, who worked in the financial district… to no avail. It was one of the most frightening moments of my life. (BTW – thankfully, we did finally reach him!)
While all of this was going on, standing next to me was my colleague, Kirk. Ah, Kirk. He was my rock at that moment. When I think back on that day, Kirk always comes to mind. And, forever, we will be bonded by that experience.
Today, my first email was from Kirk. Simply, it said, “Alana – Have a good day. Kirk.” Truth told, he beat me to the punch – I had literally just said to my husband, I need to send a quick note to Kirk. After all, it is September 11th. This was not the first year that Kirk has reached out to me on a September 11th. In fact, he has done so every year since 2001. In fact, earlier this week we agreed to have a standing date for coffee every September 11th. I’m looking forward to it!
You see, Kirk and I genuinely like one another, we have immense respect for each other, and we both continue to be grateful for having had a friend to lend a shoulder on that most frightening of days.
Indeed, people pull together in times of tragedy, in times of crisis. Of course, we often do so also during times of joy and happiness. It’s all human nature. But it is those trying times which we remember most, during which our metal is tested, when we most display our gratitude.
Is there someone in your life who has been this source of strength for you in a time of need? Have you provided that support mechanism to another?
One of those people for me is undoubtedly Kirk. Thank you, Kirk, for your friendship. I remain grateful. This post is dedicated to you!
P.S. – I flew from KC to Oakland today on a Southwest Airlines flight. Special kudos to the classy way the flight attendants honored the memories of those lost on 9/11/01. They said, “On this September 11th, we remember those lost and thank you for your confidence in our airline.” Just something nice in the face of an ugly event.