September holds two important dates. One, which shall live in infamy, is the anniversary (the 9th this year) of the 9/11 attacks, of course, in New York but crucially for us also in D.C.
We marked this September 11th by making a trip to the Memorial at the site of the Pentagon attack, opened only two years ago. It was a strange sensation to look back across the highway at the tall buildings of Crystal City, where we lived with John for three months in the back part of 2009.
Unlike at Ground Zero, where there is nothing left to help visualise what actually happened that fateful day, only a relatively small part of the sprawling, low-rise Pentagon was destroyed, and the section has since been fully rebuilt. The memorial helps visitors to understand what happened by incorporating metal lines which show the direction from which the plane flew into the building.
The design is pregnant with symbolism, with a line heading towards the building for each year of birth of one or more of the 184 victims. Along these are arranged a kind of ‘flying’ memorial bench for each person who died. Those that face away from the building represent those killed inside the Pentagon, and those that face towards it indicate the people who died on Flight 77.
The most deeply affecting were the several children who perished on the plane, separated from the other victims by a couple of decades of empty space.
I don’t really know what to add, but it felt important to me to be there that day. I can imagine having a similar experience before too long on top of the new WTC1, where I stood back in 1994.
Then 15th September, in what will hopefully be a positive moment for the USA (I flatter myself ;-)) is a year to the day since Karen & I stepped out into a balmy evening at Dulles Airport for the first time, starting our American adventure.
Well, we’ve certainly had some major setbacks in this first year, which do overshadow it to some extent – our baby that wasn’t, and then the financial burden that accompanied it (God bless the NHS!).
Still, looking back I can’t help but think we have a lot to be grateful for – the love and support of my ‘family-in-law’ ;-), employment x 2 from some unexpected sources (France and Slovakia), a fabulous two month stay in Slovakia, a lovely apartment, actual summer (!!), and a fascinating land to explore in our *new wheels* :-D
As for the fascinating land part, I’m really enjoying whenever we get to go and explore, but then looking back, every day has been an exploration of sorts. I will continue Mr Cooke’s legacy! You guys are on notice – the British reinvasion of Virginia has begun!
For any readers who we’ve gathered since our arrival, you can look back on the beginning of this great journey by clicking here.
We celebrated the occasion by inviting some new friends from GraceChurch of Alexandria out for fish & chips (what else?!) at an Irish ‘chipper’ in Old Town (close enough, I guess!). We had a fun time, and the food wasn’t bad either. I guess our national dish is just one of those inimitable foods – you can cook battered fish and some kind of chips anywhere on earth, but it never quite adds up to
fish & chips!
Here’s to a great second year in the USA,