Dear firefighters, police officers, employees, and anyone else who as at the World Trade Center,
You survived something unimaginable. Even those of us who were alive can not imagine the pain of experiencing what you experienced. As we move further along in time, the raw emotion of the event may be lost to some who are just entering school, who are just learning about this tragedy. It is in the history textbooks, but it is not just history. History is so often looked at through a neutral, what-can-we-learn-from-this-event kind of perspective, and yet this event stands as something else. You lived through it, and it is not just history to you. It isn't just something for people to learn from. It is pain and sorrow and loss that can not be captured in a history textbook.
We have reached a time in our generation where students who are beginning school, students who are beginning to learn about 9/11, were not alive on that day. Their understanding of it will not come from their own experience, but textbooks, and teachers, and news. I am a freshman in college and I was four years old when the planes crashed into the World Trade Center. It is difficult for me to view 9/11 as the same reality as someone like you, someone who lived it. I don't have that experience. I wasn't there. I have documentaries and teachers who were there and family who watched it on the news. I can not imagine the sorrow you feel this time of year, the memories you relive. I have the utmost respect for you, and for what you live with. As time goes on, I'm sure some of the pain has faded. I'm sure that many injuries have healed. But there are scars, visible and invisible. They don't fade quite so easily.
You deserve to know that you are more than just a part of this tragedy. You deserve to know that we are not only with the fallen, but with you as well. Our hearts go out to you, and the sorrow you have to live with. Perhaps, to you this day is one you want to forget, but it is memorialized and ingrained in our history forever. Perhaps it is something you have moved past, and this day is one you would like to skip over and move on with your life instead of remembering. And that's okay, we are with you. You are remembered, along with the fallen. Perhaps it seems like this day is not about you, but it is. It is about everyone who was there, everyone who made it out, and everyone who didn't. We are all with you, and we will be year after year. Your pain is unique and it does not go unnoticed or unrecognized.
We are all with you.