How do you want to be remembered?

A trip to NYC feels incomplete without making time to visit Ground Zero.  It seemed particularly important to go on Memorial Day weekend.

The 9-11 tragedy and the images that now surround the site should give us all pause.  The people who died that day started off their morning thinking it was just another day.  Just like we do, every day.

I found myself wondering what they would have done or said differently.  All the things that at the moment mattered — really didn’t.

What if it had been you?

  • Would you have shouted at the driver who cut you off?
  • Would you be at the office and miss saying good night to your son or daughter?
  • Would you worry about those five extra pounds?
  • Would you panic at this quarter’s sales numbers?
  • Would you cling to that grudge?
  • Would you worry about your blog’s ranking?

Who would you think about? What would you do?  What would you say?  Why don’t you say it today?

Here’s my question for myself this Memorial Day.  And for you. 

How do you want your life to be measured?  What if today was the day?


06groundzero_2

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure
Measure a year?

02groundzero_2

In daylights – in sunsets
In midnights – in cups of coffee
In inches – in miles
In laughter – in strife

01groundzero_2

In – five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure
A year in the life?

08groundzero

How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Seasons of love
Seasons of love

11groundzero

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Journeys to plan

10groundzero_2

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure the life
Of a woman or a man?

03groundzero

In truths that she learned
Or in times that he cried
In bridges he burned
Or the way that she died

07groundzero

It’s time now – to sing out
Tho’ the story never ends
Let’s celebrate
Remember a year
In the life of friends

13groundzero_2

Remember the love
Remember the love
Remember the love
Measure in love

04groundzero

Measure
Measure your life in love
Seasons of love
Seasons of love

Note:  I took all of these photos on 5/26/07.  The 5th, 6th & 8th photos are of pictures that hang in the memorial area. (So they are my photos of someone else’s photos) The rest are of artifacts in the area.  One of the most striking realizations as you walk around the site is the deep hunger people have to leave notes or messages.  They’ve written on signage, walls and anywhere they think their voice might be able to linger. 

It’s not graffiti, it’s grief.

The photos are mine, the lyrics belong to Jonathan Larson from the musical RENT.

 

 

 

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

16 comments on “How do you want to be remembered?

  1. Mark Goren says:

    Drew: I was there a couple of weeks ago, actually stayed at the hotel right across the street from Ground Zero. When I sent a Twitter message about being at the site with my kids – and how much more powerful being there with them made me feel – you were quick to respond. I think it’s because you and I have similar thoughts on the site and on being dads.

    Being there was terribly emotional for me. It wasn’t my first time at the site, but thinking about all the families that suffered that day, all the kids who kissed their “old man” that morning, only never to see them again – got me. It really got me.

    I tried to explain to my three-year old son about the towers and about how many heroes there were that day, just to give him some sense of what happened, even at the most basic level. I also taught him how to salute that morning. And, before we left, we saluted the site together out of respect.

    Have a good Memorial Day, Drew. Enjoy the extra day at home with your kids.

  2. David Reich says:

    I know Ground Zero has become one of the top, if not THE top, tourist destinations.

    I went once, reluctantly, when my best friend was visiting from out of town. I find it difficult to go back. I still have difficulty even going near the area, because I still look up expecting to see those twin towers. When I see the downtown skyline now, it’s like seeing a friend with his two front teeth missing.

    For many New Yorkers, the feeling is different than how out-of-towners may feel. Of course they empathize — it was their country that was attacked, after all, and many had friends or relatives who were killed. But to have seen those towers fall, with my own eyes — not on TV — and to realize that in that instant hundreds orthoiusands of lives were being snuffed out, is still difficult to live with.

    So that’s why I stay away from Ground Zero. I’ll be back when new buldings go up and it’s again a scene of live and activity. It doesn’t mean, though, that I’ll ever forget.

  3. David Reich says:

    I know Ground Zero has become one of the top, if not THE top, tourist destinations.

    I went once, reluctantly, when my best friend was visiting from out of town. I find it difficult to go back. I still have difficulty even going near the area, because I still look up expecting to see those twin towers. When I see the downtown skyline now, it’s like seeing a friend with his two front teeth missing.

    For many New Yorkers, the feeling is different than how out-of-towners may feel. Of course they empathize — it was their country that was attacked, after all, and many had friends or relatives who were killed. But to have seen those towers fall, with my own eyes — not on TV — and to realize that in that instant hundreds or thousands of lives were being snuffed out, is still difficult to live with.

    So that’s why I stay away from Ground Zero. I’ll be back when new buldings go up and it’s again a scene of life and activity. It doesn’t mean, though, that I’ll ever forget.

  4. Mark Goren says:

    Pretty powerful, David. Curious to know what your feelings are about the plans to rebuild there. Any thoughts?

  5. Although I’ve lived in Maryland for nearly 30 years, I am a New Yorker, having been born and lived in the shadow of The City for the first 22 years of my life.

    I remember when the Towers were being built and the hue and cry about their size, look, design, etc. But they were built and, along with the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, became quickly absorbed into the the much admired cityscape.

    I think every NYer has a story to tell about the WTC.
    I once interviewed for the job for a company housed here. I celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary to my first husband at Windows on the World, the skytop restaurant known more for the view than the food. I always took out-of-town guests there for a look-see.

    I returned to NY a few weeks after 9/11 to visit a sick relative. There’s a part of the train trip to NY from MD where you can see a large section of Manhattan as you leave NJ to enter the NY train tunnel. Our train car, usual a bustle of chatter and noise, was pin drop quiet. We were sat and stood mute, staring at the blank negative space where the Towers once stood. I heard weeping, or maybe it was just my own grief.

    Maybe it was my imagination, but the train seemed to push on more slowly, giving us a little more time to have this new NY skyline sink-in.

    As the cab drove me to St. Vincent’s hospital (the hospital of first response during that terrible day), something struck me as odd and out of place. Then I realized the street, for 30 years deeply shadowed by the Towers, was filled with sunlight. The sun-filled cheeriness deeply contrasts with the tattered posters of “Have You Seen…” fliers tacked up on every wall, bus stop canopy and every stationary space.

    I haven’t had the heart to visit Ground Zero yet. Like David, I think I’ll wait until the space is once again bursting with life and activity.

    We remember the fallen best, I think, when we carry their memory with us as we get on with the joy and business of living.

  6. Beautiful and profound post, Drew. The questions you raise are questions we should ask ourselves every day, not just on Memorial Day.

    It’s easy to lose focus of the big picture. There are so many distractions to keep us preoccupied. As much as it hurts to remember those who fell in battle, these moments serve as eternal reminders of what life is truly all about.

  7. David Reich says:

    Mark asked how I feel about plans to rebuild the area. For me, it can’t be fast enough. To have the gaping void in the middle of what had been a center of activity just adds salt to the wound.

    Like Copywriting Maven, I can remember when the twin towers were being built. I didn’t like the design at first. To me, they were just two bland squares reaching into the sky. A skyscraper, I felt back then, had to have a uniqueness to it, like the spire of The Empire State Building or The Chrysler Building. But over time, The World Trade Center became part of the city’s skyline, adding its own piece to the jigsaw puzzle. I can’t wait till the missing piece is replaced.

  8. Chris Brown says:

    Good stuff Drew. This really brings it all home – I like how you combined the photos with the music from Rent. Powerful.
    Chris Brown

  9. Mark,

    It’s funny but you’re right. That’s what I think about when I am at Ground Zero. How many kids are missing their dad today? How many husbands/wives are trying to parent alone? How many children will grow up and not remember what their parent’s voice sounded like?

    I suppose it makes sense that we apply our own filter to the tragedy. But like you, I can’t go there without hugging my daughter a little tighter and having my heart ache for the kids of 9-11.

    Drew

  10. David,

    I suspect that for anyone who spent much time in NYC, the skyline, no matter what goes in its place, will ever seem “quite right.” And I am sure that feeling is deeply engrained into the New Yorkers who got used to seeing the towers every day.

    Like you, I am anxious for them to put something new there. Right now, all that is there is the loss. It’s time to build — honoring the loss but also healing the wounds.

    Drew

  11. Roberta,

    We were there shortly after the tragedy. I will never forget slowly walking, stopping to read the posters that were attached to anything that didn’t move. Every time thought I couldn’t be more heart-broken for these families, I read the next one and it was even worse.

    I can remember my mom talking about where she was at when Pearl Harbor was bombed. Sadly, for our kids, it will be 9-11.

    Drew

  12. Chris,

    Thanks. That particular song from RENT is sort of my personal “theme” song, if you will. A good reminder that at the end of the day and at the end of our lives, we want to make sure we invested our time into the things that actually mattered.

    Drew

  13. Ryan,

    I always find it interested that we get very clear on what really matters right after a friend’s funeral or a tragedy like 9-11. And then, a week or two later…we’re back to our old habits.

    I often wonder what will it take for it to genuinely sink in enough to change our behavior.

    Drew

  14. kathy says:

    Unfortunately, life goes on. My husband died 12 years ago today and the most amazing thing to me was the next day…life went on!

    I don’t think live has gone on for many of us… beyond 9/11 but unfortunately for many people it has!

    Such a waste, sad situation and unfortunately we let it happen! Where was our Air Force or protection!

  15. Kathy,

    I’m sorry about your husband. I know that when you lose someone that close to you, the grieving never ends. It just evolves into part of who you are.

    I’ve not suffered a loss as deep as yours, but even when I have lost good friends, like you, I felt a little like I was standing still and the rest of the world was zooming by me. I couldn’t understand how they could be going to the bank or watching TV or whatever…because the day was anything but ordinary.

    But you are right…life does go on, whether we’re ready for it or not.

    And I know several times…I sure wasn’t.

    Drew

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *