My family has traditionally traveled a couple times a year to be with my mother’s family, just north of Pittsburgh. Our gathering place was originally my grandparents’ home: several acres of magnificent rural land that is still so vivid to me now. My mother had four siblings, and in addition to my own four siblings and me, one of my aunts also had five kids who were close to us in age. These cousins have often felt like a second set of siblings. We all ran amok all over that land, but my main partners-in-crime were Shane and an older female cousin ours. Shane was never afraid to get dirty or wet, and Samara and I would at least follow, if not embrace, his lead.
This morning, I walked out of the building in which I live, walked across the street, and saw this. For today, I am grateful for South Carolina patriotism; I appreciate whoever is responsible for the gesture. It jolted me into a somber mood, as I realized, for the first time, that today is September 11. I was a junior in high school when the planes hit the twin towers. It was so confusing then and mostly still is. I do think this day is worth remembering, though: for the sadness of the losses American incurred, for the complexity of inhabiting this world together, and even for the oh-so-brief unity we felt after the attack.