12:08 PM PDT, September 7, 2021
While the U.S. has mourned every year since September 11th, 2001, Jack Grandcolas feels that pain acutely.
“This anniversary is big because it’s 20 years,” he stresses. “But every year, it’s a gut punch.”
Lauren was returning home from her grandmother’s funeral.
She called Jack from the plane’s cabin and left a message, saying, “We’re having a little problem on the plane. I’m totally fine. I love you more than anything, just know that.”
“The first few years going back to the memorial was important to be there, to be at the site,” Jack explained. “But it was extremely difficult and hard to take. And for my own health, I decided I would not return for the memorial anniversary until it was completed.”
Instead, Jack said he focused on personal ways to memorialize his late wife.
“For most of the years, I would just try to do something quiet and solemn, understated. Lauren would have liked that,” he said. “Go sit by the ocean, go take a walk through the woods, go for a bike ride, you know, maybe get on a sailboat.
“And then I would end the day by going down to her Lauren Place on Fourth Street and leave some flowers, a note and read the notes and the flowers that other people had left in her memory,” he continued. Lauren’s Place is a memorial in San Rafael, California, where a plaque hangs to honors Lauren.
This year, for the 20th anniversary, Jack plans to return to Pennsylvania to see the completed Flight 93 National Memorial.
He’s also writing a book on the grieving process to help other people. And he says he would like people to remember just how united the country once was.
“I’d like Americans to try to remember how we united, how the whole world united, after 9/11, 2001,” he said.
“This country was united from sea to shining sea, and today, maybe now would be a good time to let the divisiveness drop. Let the knee-jerk vitriol drop. Just take a minute to pause and look deep into your own soul.”