“You’re a nameless body. I know nothing about you. We’re trying desperately to save you but right now, all I am is mad at you. Maybe you were texting, or popped a Vicodin at the campus party and should’ve Ubered. In 5 minutes, I’m about to change your mom and dad’s lives. So, I pick up your faded driver’s license, flip to Facebook. I owe it to them to remind myself it is a person I’m talking about.”
“I was devastated when I found the 32-year old veteran dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, but you didn’t know. I missed my kids birthdays, school plays, and family trips because I had to work, but you didn’t know. I was never comfortable at social gatherings because with the things I’ve seen, I can’t trust anyone. I had problems, just like everyone else, but you didn’t know.”
“I lost control of my car. You stopped to help me. I felt safer as you stood by my driver’s side window. That changed. In a split second, I saw your smile turn to concern as a semi came over the hill.”
“What I didn’t expect was a visit from the fire crew that was on scene and who, like true heroes, tried to save that baby’s life. They came in together, stood before me and asked if we could all share a hug.”
“To my kids, please understand when I’m strict and paranoid wanting to track your every movement, it’s because I know a child didn’t make it home to their family that day.”
This year, 17 years after the fatal attacks, the tradition continues. Never forget.