The true 9/11 memorial

I just read a most wonderful story in The New York Times by Dan Barry about a mother who finally had the courage to look through the laptop owned by her daughter, who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11. I’m sorry that it is behind the TimesSelect wall but nevermind that. In that laptop, Ann Nelson’s mother found an unfinished list of the 100 things she wanted to accomplish. Barry writes:

36. Learn about wine.

Ann was supposed to attend a wine class the evening of Sept. 11….

After 36, there is a 37, but it is blank.

Mr. Nelson reads the list as an inventory of his daughter’s values. “You don’t see any Corvettes in the garage or any of those material things you might expect from someone that age,” he says. “She recognized that you appreciate a few things and kind of live your life wisely.”

Reading this made me wish that on the fifth anniversary of that day, The Times would return to some of the families who spoke in its Portraits of Grief series and book to see where they are today, to remind us of the individual lives lost, the innocents and heroes of that day. That is the best memorial I can imagine.

That is a more important memorial than the $1 billion it would take to build a huge monument in stone and water at the site of death. It’s not about the place. It’s about the people.