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It is the burial site of ordinary people who made a dying choice to save others. Passengers and crew took flight 93 down in a field rather than allow terrorists to use them and the plane to destroy others. Emotions of pride, sadness, love, anger and others I cannot name tumble over themselves like the leaves in the wind now, but not then, not at the memorial. I was profoundly disturbed at my lack of emotional engagement at the memorial.

At the Twin Towers museum, I hardly dared to breathe. At the Pentagon, I breathed the peaceful contemplation of the garden. At Shanksville, a curious gap. Like the walls marking the flight path, my trajectory was down and focus narrowed. The biological threat of the pandemic narrowed the experience. Visitors were moved through at the pace of the crowd. Exhibits were offline. We were at a distance in a place where human connection was everything.

We could not remark together, nor cry in concert. We could not pass tissues nor stand shoulder to shoulder. The voices of the crew and passengers were not there for us. Although I could have been able to hear only a few without being overcome, I wanted to hear the crew. How did they sound? What did they say? Covid took that away.

Shanksville is a sacred place. Later, when we are able, I shall return. Above all, those who died that day deserve to be heard. The brigades of firefighters, medical personnel, investigators and all who came to help that day became a city of compassion. There was no one to rescue. It was the families who got final “I love you” messages who were held and loved by the city of compassion.

Those caregivers have all gone home, undoubtedly believing they did what any decent person would do. We should knock upon their doors and lay roses at their feet. We should write our histories about what any decent person would do.

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