Josef Stalin has been quoted as saying that the death of an individual is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic. He knew something about creating statistics.
The events of 9/11/2001 have become a memorial more about the fates of firefighters than of the people who died in the attacks. That is understandable. The only thing that united the individuals who died in the attacks was that they were all in the wrong place that day. They were men and women, Christians and Jews and Muslims, they were mothers and daughters and fathers and sons.
I knew no one killed in the attacks. However, like almost everyone I know, I was connected by only two degrees of separation.
A co-worker following the attacks was quiet for days. Finally I asked why and found that her nephew was on one of the top floors of one of the twin towers. He had been married less than a year. His wife was pregnant with their first. He called her to say I won’t be home for dinner, ever. There is no way down. I love you. Tell our daughter that daddy really wanted to be part of her life.
There were many of those stories, and we can’t tell them all or hear them all so we watch firefighters marching with bagpipes and erect banners and listen to speeches about national security.
The terrorists did a good job. After all of this time the grief is raw.