Day of Remembrance

Today has been 12 years since the senseless destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. We all know where we were, what we were doing and it was "a day that will live in infamy" as Franklin D. Roosevelt put it, referring to Pearl Harbor.

My memories of the Twin Towers are not limited to September 11, 2001. Back in 1988, I went on a trip to New York with my friend, Sean Hegarty, who was at the time battling with AIDS. He unfortunately lost his battle in 1989. However, during the two weeks around Memorial Day of 1988, Sean and I spent that time in New York City doing everything we could possibly think up to do. We didn't have a lot of money but that didn't stop us from walking miles and miles up and down Manhattan.

On one of those days, we ended up in the Financial District at the Twin Towers. We took the ear-popping elevator ride all the way up to the top and then the escalator to the outside catwalk-like platform where we could walk around. What a feeling that was being up so high looking out. I remember it being extremely windy up there and I was afraid I was going to blow off the building. I think at that time the tallest building I had ever been in was the old Dominion Bank Building on Jefferson Street in Roanoke which is actually about 15 floors.

Sean and I had such a lovely time that day. Fast forward 13 years, my heart just sank as the Twin Towers collapsed into a gigantic rubble pile in 2001. I was extremely sad for the victims, but I was also sad a place which held such special memories of me and a dear friend, who had since passed away, ended so tragically. I even returned to New York around Memorial Day of 2002 and you could still see the smoke rising up where the Twin Towers had once stood. It was a sight very hard to comprehend when seeing it in person.

I remember people asking me if I was nervous about flying to New York still not so long after 9/11 but I had reservations and show tickets bought and paid for prior to 9/11 and I wasn't about to let even Osama bin Laden keep me from seeing the three Broadway shows I had tickets to see. I do remember LaGuardia Airport was like a "ghost-airport" with very few people in it. I have to admit that was an eerie feeling.

Then in 2002, September changed for me. I was cast as Dracula in "Dracula: The Musical?" and we opened and performed twelve performances of the show from September 5th to 22nd. It was one of the happiest times of my life. I was starting to perform again after a very long absence, I was making new friends and I just loved playing Dracula as a comedic character. Many people in the theater to this day will remember me saying, "Give me a good farce any day."

The point I'm trying to make today is that even though we can remember a tragic day such as 9/11, I feel we shouldn't let it darken each September for the rest of our lives. In spite of the evil in the world, and there will always be evil unfortunately, we have to take strides to find the sunshine between the clouds. I know that sounds a bit "Pollyana-ish" but there is still so much good in the world too and I have found in my years, you find in this life what you seek out.