I wasn't really sure what to do to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11 today. But after I woke up this morning I had the urge to simply share my memories of that morning. Even though that day and the days afterward were horrible, I don't want to forget, so I find it important to dust off this memory from time to time and examine it again. It's nothing special, I was on the other side of the country when it happened, but it's what I experienced at the time.
I was in grad school, married for 3 years to a firefighter, and living in California. Hubby was at work that morning, and he called and woke me up in the early morning to tell me to turn on the news. A plane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers in New York City.
I turned on the news, even though it was really, really early for me. The Today Show was on, and they were trying to figure out what had happened. At this point they still thought it had been a freak accident and they didn't know all of the details. As I continued to watch, the second plane hit. I was shocked, Matt Lauer was shocked; what in the world was going on?
As events continued to unfold and information started to come in about more terrorist actions that day, I started to get nervous. Would the West Coast be hit with attacks? Would my husband be in danger? Would my little brother, also a firefighter, be in danger?
When I watched the first tower collapse I lost it. I knew there were firefighters, policemen, and paramedics in that building when it fell, that there were possibly thousands of people working in that building who also did not make it out. The numbers being thrown around early on were devastating, terrifying, and awful. Then the second tower collapsed and I spent the rest of the day (and many days after that) in a daze, teary-eyed, glued to the television, and saying a lot of prayers. The haunting images of people walking the streets, covered in ash, are forever etched into my memory.
To me, the most heartbreaking images in the days afterward were the flyers of the missing that were posted all over the streets. People searching for missing loved ones, desperate to hear from them, to find them. I couldn't imagine the feelings of those people, but I knew that at any time I could be one of them--any of us could be in that position. Life is unpredictable that way.
I am still struck by the bravery and compassion of the people who, in the face of such devastation and terror, stepped forward to help. People who fought to stop terrorists on their own airplane to prevent another attack. People who went into New York to offer whatever aid they could, from first aid kits to water to hands on the rescue and recovery site. People who gave blood. People who donated money to organizations for 9/11 victims and their families. People who joined the military to fight to protect our freedoms and to try to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.
It was a confusing time; it was our generation's Pearl Harbor. It will continue to reverberate and shape our personal, economic, and political decisions for years to come. And even though sometimes it seems like we are forever divided and polarized by differing opinions and views of life and the way it should be, hopefully we can continue to come back to our common ground of remembrance of those who were lost and appreciation for the things in life that we hold dear.
I lived on the other side of the country, but I will never forget.
In loving memory of the 2,977 people who were lost on 9/11.