The line snaked around, back and forth across the sidewalk. It was pretty out, a clear blue sky with a temperate wind blowing, cooling things a bit. Just as the hundreds that had visited the memorial the days before, each person would move single file through the security check bottleneck that in 2013 is standard for Americans.

There was a time when this wasn’t so.

My youngest son and I stood in line to see the 911 Memorial.

If he had carried his military ID he would have been ushered to the front.

As we waited for entrance, we talked about his deployments. We talked about his older brother’s time spent there. We didn’t talk the whole time we waited and while I do not know the specifics of this younger son’s thoughts, I am sure that he was recollecting as I was for those many months, in the sand, with those he lead and  those he lead with while there. We reminisced about his older brother’s deployment.  That older son shared lots with his family before he left for Heaven, a wealth of things as it turns out catered to the one he was sharing with. I suspect he’s smiling a bit from wherever Heaven resides that we share new thoughts and knowledge about him. It’s  the Father who that son spends time with that places in my heart the proof that we should never underestimate the power of love to reach across time and space.

Past the security line, we walk through the lush plantings of trees and the remarkable survivor tree and I overheard a small, dark skinned girl ask her dad to tell her why she was there. In one sentence he told her that planes flown by terrorists destroyed two buildings. In the next he explained with as little gruesome detail as he could, that many had died that day, many innocent people. His summary was remarkable for it’s succinct accuracy and I appreciated his careful attention to not place undue burden on the child’s mind. But he and I both knew, know,  it would be that young child and those of her generation and ones after to place the event, this culture changing event, into a context that would, could somehow be positive.

One must assume that is part of the reason for the memorial.

As I walked around the first pool, I remembered vaguely the competition for ideas and design. I remembered the choice. But I had no idea, not an inkling of how remarkable, how compelling the choice would be once executed.

There is a magnificence to the memorial, the two pools with water spilling to a bottomless center. The vastness of each pool, the place you are required to take as the observer  draws you in. It makes you think. It makes you feel. And then you see the names, etched in metal, surrounding each pool. There are too many names. As the observer, whether consciously or subconsciously, you know that we as American’s consider that from that day forward, we moved from innocence into reality.

We live in a world full of strife and conflict.

As a nation, we mourned  the destruction and were shocked and then humbled at the toll it took on the men and woman who serve us as first responders in disaster.  As weeks rolled by, our sons and daughters would  populate wars on terror and again, we wondered at the selflessness of protecting a nation, recognition of the sacrifice beyond the bounds of personal ideologies or political party.

I’m proud of Josh and Jake for their service. As their mother I never wanted them to go. As an American, I am humbled by their call to duty, as I am with every other man or woman, who with courage, serves.

If you have time, go to the Memorial.

In the meantime, with me, count who you know, all that huge number of people, who with hearts that give, serve anonymously, when taken together, are a reflection of the good part of our world.

Each generation will have those servants for our country. I’ll never know each of them and neither will the visitors to the memorial, but for a moment, I want to think of as many as I can. And thank them from the bottom of my heart.

I started a list. Add yours in the comments if you’ve a mind …

Jacob Siefert, Josh Siefert, John Wilkinson, Patrick Frasier, David Frasier, Mark Miller, Tomas Garces, Pat Ferguson, Manuel Garcia, Cameron Wilson, Matthew Franklin, Redgie Duas, Scott Garrett, Michelle Campos, Chris Brawley, David Moran, Dan Moran,  David Cheek, Joshua P. Droz, Peter Wetterauer, PJ Englebrecht, Will Oliver, Justin Tice, Bert Walker, TJ Saari, Melvin Miller, Ryan Renkin, Michael Adams, Jeremy E. Ray, Johnathan Lowery, Brian Craig, Chad Ogden, Joe Trevino, Sarah Whitten, Chris Noll, Devlin Boyter, Jonathan Burroughs, Martha Hutchison,  Jeff Wright …