I should have been able to predict long ago what today would be like. I knew before I started reading the news today that there would be stories of memorial services where they would rehash the events of five years ago. What I failed to expect was how easily my own memories of that day would surface or the need I would feel to capture those memories.
I remember walking into work that morning and wondering why everyone was openly staring at a television set (I came in from behind the set so I didn’t see what was on). As soon as I got to my office and saw the headlines I was no longer surprised. I remember how nervous everyone was. I got jittery when the phone line went dead while talking to my wife that morning.
Nobody with a memory of that day would be surprised at the emotion tied to those events, but I still can’t figure out what is personally different between four years and five years. Socially I understand it. Five years is our second major chronological milestone, after 1 year and before 10, 25, 50 , and 100 years. It is an opportunity to look back and view events from an expanded perspective over the one we had in the heat of the moment. Personally I had expected that each anniversary would be a chance to reflect and that with each passing year the emotions would be a little less intense than they were the year before. Somehow I find that is not the case.
Last year, on September 11th, I was flying across the country on a plane. It was no big deal. I noted the significance of the date and remembered, somewhat mechanically, what had happened. I did not feel the closeness of memory that I have felt today. I find it interesting that five years distance has brought the memories closer to me than four years distance had done.