There are some memories that never let you go. They stay with you, hold on to you, keep you in their grip. No matter how many years pass, they remain.
To so many who have experienced inexplicable tragedy, memories of a lost loved one instigate crushing sadness and doubts about the meaning of life and create stumbling blocks on the journey.
We were thinking about memory and the power it holds over us Monday evening at the 9/11 memorial ceremony at Jean Cochran Park in Peconic. Twenty-two years have passed since that late-summer Tuesday morning, Sept. 11, 2001. The passage of those years should mean something — but they don’t. It is all still fresh. At 8:45 a.m., American Airlines Flight 11 struck the North Tower. At 9:03 a.m., United Flight 175 hit the South Tower. We know where we were when we first heard the news. Thousands of families waited for word — any word — that their loved ones who worked in the towers got out safely.
Memory — and never forgetting the horror of that day — were the themes at the Monday event. Under the supervision of Tracey Orlando, 2,997 American flags were placed in rows leading up to the tall steel beam that had once been in the North Tower. A giant wire sculpture of an osprey, its wings wide open, sits atop the beam.
Those themes were sounded by Larry Behr, a member of Cutchogue Fire Department and the head of the Southold Town Fire Chief’s Council. In a somber voice he mentioned the 343 firefighters who died that day.
“We will never forget,” Mr. Behr said, telling the people present to “never take one second of your life for granted.”
Southold Supervisor Scott Russell spoke to the theme of memory as well, saying, “To those who lost loved ones, we stand with you. We will always remember; we will never forget.”
Riverhead held its own ceremony, as did towns across Long Island and across the nation. Monday morning, at a 9/11 memorial in Calverton, Riverhead Supervisor Yvette Aguilar spoke to the emotion of the day.
“This will be a short program,” she said. “Afterward, I am going to go home and reflect on 9/11. We will continue to mourn the loss of all the victims.”
The supervisor said that “on 9/11, the first responders who perished went to sleep that night in preparation for their duties the following day. They left home, not knowing they would never return home to hug their loved ones.”
These ceremonies on the North Fork reflect on the goodness of our communities, and of people who plan each year for remembrance ceremonies on the anniversary of the terror attacks.
The passage of time will not erase the sadness. But seeing communities come together at these events reminds us of the goodness all around us — and the power of memory to never let go.