First it's the visuals. Check that picture on the front page of the New York Times Wednesday edition. That's what many saw live when the second plane hit. I was spared all the worst live, but the image of the dust of the buildings, and the knowledge that many people died, the buildings were gone, and things would never be the same.
I have not always permitted myself to feel 9/11 fully. Sometimes, I have just shoved it to the back of my mind. Other times, I dressed it up in rah-rah. I know I did that sometimes while I was working at the VA. If I really think about it, I can tear up fast.
I still remember that day at work, and that night after work. We stayed steady busy in that suburban ER, never completely insane, but busy enough to keep us moving. I remember the groups of people gathered around every TV in the place. I remember the tension of rumors of further attack and the way it felt like we were on war footing right then that day. I remember stopping for gas at the Philips 66 on Grandview Road and Blue Ridge, grateful that they had not screwed around with their prices. I remember the uncertainty about the price of gas--and everything else.
I remember how we tended to treat each other gently that day, and for several that followed. (Now that I consider it, that may have made the later actions of my employer at the time seem even more heartless and calculated, but that's a matter for another post...) How could we give each other crap when we were being attacked out of (literally) the clear blue sky?
This is our Pearl Harbor. When it looks like we are starting to fade on our memories, we need to poke each other and say, "Never forget."