It's been a pretty amazing week. I wanted to take the time to reflect on a few things...
Last Friday one of the guys I worked with in Crystal City took me over to a building to show me around. I had been here before but only for business stuff. He was about to go stand watch and so had some time to spare.
I saw some of the displays, etc, etc. But the really powerful part started with seeing all the quilts donated to the building after Sept 11. He said that there was so much stuff donated, that some of the display cases rotate every few months or so.
We then went into the Rememberance Room - where the plane hit. It used to be where the Navy Operations center was. It's on no maps. It's not fancy. The title on the door just says rememberance room. Has a simple piece of marble with the names of the Navy people (civilains and military) who were killed on Sept 11 in the operations center. A few engraved pieces on the walls but nothing big. Simple. Solemn.
We then went to the chapel and the memorial room. Again - pretty powerful stuff. The guy who I was with said there is a standing order in the opcen to escort any family member of someone who died that day to this room whenever they show up - noon or midnight. Any day. He was on watch when they got word that a family was coming over. The officer had heard what happened up in NY and voluntarily came into the opcen because he knew they would need help. So, he was there when the plane hit. His wife came along with their son and his parents. They hadn't been to the room before - and - in this room (adjacent to the chapel) are the purple heart, the civilian defense of freedom medal...and the names of all the people who died in the building that day. You can make rubbings if you want. Anyway - so the little boy saw the picture of his dad (in a book there with short bios of all the people) and said "I don't remember my daddy". The grandparents lost it - the 5 military guys all lost it (he said they couldn't find the door fast enough). But the wife was the rock. I got upset (as did he) with just the relaying of the story.
Fast forward to this week. I had been talking about this with some of the SY people over at the WNY and so said I'd show them around. I guess the wounded soldiers over at Walter Reed get tours of the pentagon with family members every once in a while. So - there were all kinds of 'younger' kids there - all (I'm assuming) from 'over there' - the ones you hear about losing this or that or these...it just breaks my heart to see how full of life and energy all of them are. I can't put it into words. But - they're just inspirational. This might sound corny - and I don't mean it to. But - man. I wish that the general public could have these experiences. It might bring 'over there' closer home.