On Friday there was an assembly at B’s school. A memorial for 9/11. As we rolled into the drop off area, B asked me why they were having it and I sat there kind of stunned. It dawned on me that I haven’t explained the events of 9/11 to him, nor did I even know how to explain them to a 5-year old. I told him it was an assembly to remember brave people and he seemed satisfied. For now.
What’s striking about this assembly is that NONE of the students attending remember, or were alive on, September 11th, 2001. NONE.
It’s odd to think that this day of tragedy happened 10 years ago. I know that I am still very sensitive to the day and the days following. At the time, I was 23 and in the last semester of grad school in Tallahassee. That day I was picking up my car from getting my brakes fixed. While I was checking out, I randomly looked over at the TV (with no sound) and saw the news coverage about the 1st plane hitting. I ran out to tell Kate (who had dropped me off) what was going on. We were stunned. At the time, they thought it was a small plane and had no idea it was a terrorist attack. As we drove to work we called each other with updates. Then the 2nd plane hit. Holy shit. I’m pretty sure that’s the only thing we could think to say.
When we got to work (we were grad assistants on research project) – NOBODY KNEW. We started walking around to different cubes telling people to check the news. Most news sites were slow and overloaded. Phone calls started coming in and people were verifying what we had been telling them. Kate and I worked with another friend, Jamie, and the three of us made the executive decision to leave work. We went over to Jamie’s (since she was the closest). At this point, I still hadn’t talked to Dan, to my roommate, or my parents. I was just very consumed at what was going on and the phone lines were insane.
At Jamie’s I watched the towers fall. One and then the other. I’m pretty sure I cried. I finally talked to Dan who had to wake up our roommate and tell her what was happening. She was so annoyed that he was knocking on her door and that the phone kept ringing.
A little while later, I was able to get in touch with my parents. September 11th is my Mom’s birthday. It should have been a happy call.
I honestly had no idea what kind of impact these moments would have on my life. I didn’t know anyone in the towers. Or people living in New York, on the plane in Philadelphia, or in Washington D.C. I didn’t know anyone on the planes from Boston to NY. But at that moment, we were all neighbors, friends, and family. And that day, those events, they were life changing. They have impacted EVERY SINGLE PART of my life. Just little ‘ol me. I can’t even begin to fathom how they changed the lives of the survivors, the spouses, families, and friends of those who perished.
So today I remember. I remember the towers burning. I remember the faces of those escaping it, as well as the horrific images of the people jumping from it. I remember the 24/7 news coverage (in particular Brian Williams). I remember the brave people of Flight 93. I remember the people I shared these moments with – that I will always be connected to. I remember the sadness. The patriotism. The fear. The anger. I remember the innocence that we lost. I remember.
In fact, I’ve never forgotten and I don’t think I ever will.