Week #36: Ordinary Day

It’s difficult to remember that there once was a time when hearing the date “Sept. 11” didn’t evoke memories of sadness and horror. Even in the early morning hours on that day in 2001, people went about their business as usual, making lunches, preparing for meetings, heading to the airport for a flight. They didn’t have any idea of what the day would bring and neither did our country as a whole. A day that affected so many lives and changed our world forever.

A few days later, I wrote the song “Ordinary Day.” I couldn’t stop thinking about all the people who woke up that morning going through the same motions they would on a typical day, assuming they would see their loved ones again that evening. All the people riding on the train heading to downtown Manhattan for an ordinary day of work. Those who carefully packed their luggage the evening before in preparation for their flight. All the little steps they took to prepare for their day, never knowing it would be the last time they would experience the minutiae of everyday life.

He straightened his tie then he changed his shirt
Because he thought it looked a little bit wrinkled
He combed his hair, he squinted in the mirror
He made a face because he thought he saw a wrinkle
It was an ordinary day, it was an ordinary day

He walked downstairs, he bought a paper
September 11, he read it on the train
It was an ordinary day
It was an ordinary day

She kissed her husband, she kissed her son
She called her mother whose day had just begun
She grabbed her case, she drove to the station
She caught her train, it was an ordinary day

The shock of the seeing the planes crash into the towers and the horrifying realization that there were people inside the building took a few moments to sink in. I was in Phoenix at the time, just waking up so it didn’t immediately strike me that New York was well into their workday and that many of the desks in the building were already occupied. The events of that devastating day unfolded through nonstop radio and TV coverage (no Facebook or Twitter in those days) in the weeks that followed and even now, 20 years later, it’s still painful to think about. All those who lost family members and friends that day, children who grew up without a parent, survivors who continue to suffer from health issues, all the lives affected.

It’s hard to believe it was intentional
Hatred so deep, incomprehensible
It was hard to fathom as the sky turned gray
That it started as an ordinary day.

In 2018, we stopped by Tempe Town Lake for a Sept. 11 memorial, which included a display of flags; each flag represented one person who died that day. Nearly 3,000 people in a few hours. May their memory never be forgotten and may this never happen again. May we also appreciate the blessings of an ordinary day.

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