Ten years have passed since September 11, 2001. Ten years since you and me watched that sleek United airliner slip smooth as an Olympic diver into the face of the World Trade Center's south tower -- since that long moment 2996 precious souls exhaled all at once.
Ten years have flown by since that bright blue New York morning suddenly turned ashen gray.
Since then, our family's two tough and tender patriarchs, one on each end of our deep blue sea, and my children's muscular mom also departed -- and surely since that day, family just as dear has left your kitchen table too. Leaving empty their chairs. Empty forever.
Inside this fast decade, Oregon's moral anchor Mark O. Hatfield, the last of those handsome Kennedys, and America's gentlest neighbor, Mr. Rogers -- left us too. Tired Mrs. Rosa Parks rode her last bus home; Johnny Cash took a midnight train to his beloved June Carter; Columbia astronaut Kalpana Chawla skimmed across earth's orange horizon, listening to Sir George Harrison's guitar gently weep.
Between that awful Tuesday morning in 2001 and today, both Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed were taken down.
In ten years of American warring on terror, after ten years of earnest and cynical alliances against both the terribly complicit and many-many more simply innocent: over one million Iraqis, Afghanis, Pakistanis, Somalis, Palestinians, Chechis, Russians, Kurds, Turks, Lebanese, Indonesians, Filipinos, Indians, Spaniards, Yemenis, Iranians, Israelis, Egyptians, Colombians, Peruvians, Ecuadorians, Bolivians, British, Australians, and Germans, likewise lost their precious lives. Every single one of them, leaving empty places. In hearts and in households. Forever.
Each of these departed people was just as surely some sorrowing mom's bright son, a simmering teenager's broad shouldered dad, a deeply wounded girl's elegant auntie, an inconsolable first grader's patient grandpa. About all this loss, about all our unspeakable pain, maybe we best be humbled.
Humbled, because for anger I have no more energy. Because with bitterness you only become more numb. For sadness we have no more tears. Only in humbleness, our elders have told and told and told us, can we quietly find how to love, again.
Humbling is us recalling all those who passed out of our lives over this dark decade. Humbling is how much love hurts. Humbling is PBS News Hour's Jim Lehrer turning his program over to silence as we examine the young faces of US servicemen and servicewomen not coming home. So far from home. Humbling is City Commissioner Dan Saltzman inviting all Portlanders to City Hall on Sept. 6 through 9, from 11a.m. to 1 p.m. to simply say and quietly hear the names of all those souls who altogether rose 10 furious years ago.
Humbling is knowing exactly how much a million families -- families across Asia, Arabia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America -- are still hurting since all this darkness started. Since September 11, 2001. That bright blue New York morning suddenly turned ashen gray.
Best we be hurt and humbled, altogether.