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More Than Just Names

Sleeping beauty awakes from her dream
With her lover’s kiss on her lips
Your kiss was taken from me
Now all I have is this
– Bruce Springsteen, Countin’ On A Miracle

Twenty years. I’m still here, just as I was that day, but everything has changed. What seemed important on the morning of September 11, 2001 disappeared from my mind when I heard Howard Stern, of all people, explaining what was happening at that moment in New York as I drove to a job that would be impossible to focus on for a long time afterwards.

The world has changed since 9/11. We’ve all grown hardened by violence and war and angry rhetoric. It was our generation’s Pearl Harbor, and we were ready to lash out at all who would assault us so boldly. In so many ways we’re still lashing out, but much of it has turned inward. That unified country in the days after 9/11 is far from it now.

We all felt the impact of that day, but nobody felt it more than the families and friends of those who died that day. Bruce Springsteen wrote the album The Rising shortly after 9/11. The lyrics quoted above resonate more for me than any other, representing all that was taken from so many that day. And it plays in my head now, twenty years after that day. As the bells ring in remembrance. And the names, so many names, are spoken one after another.

During the Super Bowl in 2002, just months after 9/11, U2 performed as the halftime show. They sang MLK and Where The Streets Have No Name with a white banner scrolling the names of those lost on 9/11. I still can’t watch it without getting choked up, and I dismiss anyone who might venture to declare any other performance at a Super Bowl as more powerful or significant.

These songs will always be my 9/11 soundtrack. They remind us that these were more than just names. They are lives interrupted.

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