I remember visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and being so moved by the way it spoke to me, as I think are most. No matter what your thoughts on war, "The Wall" as it has come to be known, is an extraordinarily moving experience; simple, powerful. Back then I was pretty certain my generation would never really understand, the way that older generations did, what war felt like. We had not even so much as hidden under a school desk or heard civil defense sirens in our neighborhoods. Those were the times of the generations before ours. War was only something I had vague glimpses of through the conversations of veterans in my family or from the news of places far, far away. Fortunately, I have never lost anyone I knew to a war and I live in a country where civil disobedience is not life threatening.
Veterans, at least the ones I knew, didn't talk openly about the bad stuff and most of my family members who were currently serving their country had not seen combat so we didn't worry about them. Not to make light of what they did, but we were lucky, it was just their job. We never thought they would actually get shot at. September 11 changed that for all of us.
None of us will ever forget where we were that day, or who we were frantically trying to reach, or the feeling of what might be next.
Even if we have not behaved that way of late, we remember without much provocation what it felt like in that span of time; what was important, WHO was important. We held our loved ones as if it could be our last breath or theirs.It felt then as if the sorrow leaking from my face would not end. I know it has profoundly changed me in a good way, oddly, but my prayer is that future generations never experience what it is like to know terror, that our world goes back to naiveté. That they never experience such hard life lessons.
Still, I hope in times when it is so easy to be skeptical we remember what really matters. That we teach future generations hope and gratitude. This week I choose to be hopeful. And to express how grateful I am to all the men and woman who have sacrificed for our freedom and our safety.
The 9/11 Memorial needs no words.
It is something we each have to experience in our own way.
I hope you go one day
to pay respect,
to grieve, to heal,
I love and miss you dad and I honor you,
Phil Shiver - dad, soldier, lifeguard, fireman
Assistant Chief, Pompano Beach Fire Department
Pompano Beach Fireman of the Year 1975
State of Florida Fireman of the Year 1976