It’s been a dozen years since the first, halting and somewhat confused news reports of airliners crashing into Manhattan’s Twin Towers shortly before 9 A.M., and then the Pentagon and the carnage, and courage, which followed those catastrophic events.
For family and friends who suffered losses that day, September 11, 2001, the years have been as if an eye blink. And the once searing pain of grief has now become the dull ache of a forever broken heart.
Epochal events on a world stage become historic but personal and private recollections of those who are now gone always live on, in, and through, each of us.
Despite the time and distance separating (but somehow joining) Norwich to New York, the Pentagon and a forlorn field in Pennsylvania, the service and selfless sacrifice we remember today extends beyond the buildings and lives broken and shattered on a crisp and clear nearly autumnal day that was so filled with promise when it began.
A dozen years on, we learn everyday just how heavy the burden of the past weighs on us and how it continues to cast a shadow not only on today but on our tomorrows as well. Habits and customs passed from one generation to another changed in the roar and flash of an instant, leaving us only memories and the need to begin again. And so we have.
In towns and cities, large and small, in a thousand different places and spaces across our country today, millions will remember just as we promised one another we always would.
For volunteers of the Norwich Post 9/11 Memorial Committee today is a reminder of their efforts, now crowned by success, begun more than two years ago at the request of the City of Norwich, to remember two young men, soldiers both, who will never grow old.
The committee designed a permanent remembrance of the two Norwich residents and students of Norwich Free Academy, US Army Specialist Jacob Martir and US Army 1st Lieutenant Keith Heidtman, who died during Operation Iraqi Freedom. That memorial at Chelsea Parade will be dedicated two weeks from this Saturday, September 28 at six PM.
Both were still nearly neighborhood kids when the events we mark today occurred and yet both responded as grown men do, with the fullest measure of devotion and sacrifice, doing what they felt needed to be done.
Jacob was killed by small arms fire in 2004, while on patrol in the Sadr City district of Baghdad, and Keith died in 2007, when his OH-58 Kiowa helicopter was brought down by enemy fire in Diyala Province, northeast of Baghdad.
The dedication of the Post 9/11 Memorial should afford their families, friends and former classmates, with as many of us as will fit in Chelsea Parade a celebration of their lives and the gifts their sacrifices helped preserve for all of us.
Please join us, on a day just like today.