This was my post from last year. I’m reposting it because my thoughts are pretty much the same this year.
United we stand.
What are we remembering, though, exactly? What is it that it seems so many of us HAVE quickly forgotten? My thoughts on this day, this tenth anniversary of the attacks on our country on September 11, 2001, are not cohesive. But as this day has brought back to the forefront of my mind my feelings on that day ten years ago, I wanted to try to get them out.
Of course i remember where i was. i was in bed. Sleeping. Finally feeling human again in the second trimester of my pregnancy with Kealey. For some reason I had the phone up on the nitestand, and Ben called. “Get up and go turn on the TV right now”, he said. I’m sure I asked why, and he just kept repeating “ Go turn it on. Go watch. Somethings happening, we’re being attacked. Go turn it on.” It was 7:15 am on the West Coast. I turned on the TV seconds after the first tower fell. I pulled our Ikea Poang chair RIGHT up to the TV, and sat there, mesmerized. Glued. shocked. Stunned. Unable to move. Unable to process what I was seeing. I remember putting my hands on my belly and being scared to death of what we would be bringing our child into. (the random details that stick out to me – like the chair thing, or the exact way the sunlight was streaking in through our back window – are strange. It was truly as if time stopped, and those moments were forever deeply etched into the grooves of my memory record.)
And then the second tower fell, right there on TV, right as I watched. I gasped in horror and clapped my hand over my mouth and shook my head back and forth in disbelief. And I dont know why or how or when but I somehow made it in to work. Where our boss told us that “New York is a long long way away, and we have work to do HERE”. Turns out 98% of my job was interaction with our partner office. In New York City. In Mid-town Manhattan. I remember shaking, dialing the phone number of the kid who I considered a kind of brother, and getting only a busy signal. Over. And over. And over. I remember being scared and that my hands were shaking too hard to file really well and my mind couldn’t or wouldn’t concentrate on anything for longer than a few seconds. The person whose office was just off of mine had her radio on to the news. and we kept listening all day, still too stunned to say much of anything. I remember the last straw of the day coming as I watched fighter jet after fighter jet being deployed from McChord Air Force base, a few miles away from my office, taking off right outside and in perfect view of my office windows. And then I remember crying. At the incomprehensible thought of how many had lost their lives. At the images of people posting lists of names of people they were searching for. At watching our then-President take the podium and challenge our country. At the hundreds of people who poured into our church that next nite, just wanting someone to say something to make it all make sense. Wanting to hold hands and sing kum-ba-yah and do anything, ANYTHING, to go back to how things were on September 10, 2001.
And I think for me THAT is what I remember. Watching the TV news coverage of people back then and hearing them saying “oh my God, oh my God” over and over and over again – it somehow seemed less of a blasphemy and more of a prayer. There were no words. No one knew what would happen next, or if the attacks were over, or if our country would ever be the same.
today, on this tenth anniversary of that day, I woke up and watched a replay on a cable network of those 102 minutes that changed America. No words were spoken, except those that were in the videos. Some of them were of 911 calls, of the command post transmissions listing the battalions and engine stations that were responding to the call. Most of them were home videos, portraying the sheer and utter horror and fear that so many who were THERE were feeling. We reeled in horror from 3000 miles away, they were in a living hell 3 blocks away. But I think some of the most poignant ones to me were the ones where newscasters were trying to interview people on the street. We Americans, we love the spotlight. Turn a big camera on us and put a mic in our face and we’ll spew about anything and everything and throw in a few “hi moms” for good measure. But not that day.That day there were no words. Only shock, and horror, and tear-filled eyes. I don’t think some of those images fully sunk in to me back then, and i’m not sure they did even today as I watched it again. i have personally thought before that as much as we were all scared on that day in 2001, how much more would they have been in 1941 when Pearl Harbor was attacked. But today, watching it all again, I realized how “lucky” they were back 70 years ago. There was no reliving of that horrible attack, no capturing of the horror and emptiness in the stares of people gawking at empty sky where once two towers had stood, no frame by frame slow motion replay of a large plane slamming into a building where people were sitting at their desks – no horrible, gruesome, burned forever into your retina images of bodies falling out of the sky towards certain death 100 stories below.
This tragedy unfolded before the eyes of a nation, and the terror was all of ours to behold.
I remember not crying very much back then. I simply at some point turned the TV off, and listened to CD’s instead of the radio. I could not fathom the thought of people still being in that building when it went down and i could not make it make sense in my mind that so many of NYC’s emergency responders went marching IN to that hell when people were busy running OUT of it. I didn’t want to think about it so I simply didn’t. And that is not to say that I ignored it. It was that I just didn’t sit there glued to the television anymore after a while. And then it was time for Kealey to be born. And life just kind of moved on. Bit by bit. Life moved on for all of a America. People started flying again, cautiously. And sure lines got longer, and we were all more “inconvenienced” by the new rules of how to fly, but we were glad to have the safety net. We all just kind of adjusted to our new life. But did we adjust too well?
Do we still remember? Do we REALLY remember?
do you look at the coverage from that day, the images from the days afterwards – and do you remember knowing without really knowing – that everything had changed? Do you remember what it was like BEFORE that day, when our innocence was still intact, when we were all still invincible, when nothing really bad ever happened to OUR country? That’s what I never want to forget. Yes we will always honor the sacrifice that was made, however unwittingly, of those who lost their lives on that day. But what is the legacy we should remember from that day? What it is, for me at least, is that I never want to forget what that day meant for our country. That we were truly UNITED on that day. That as a nation, we would get through this. And we would come out stronger on the other side. We HAVE done that! We got back on planes, and we cleared out the rubble of WTC and we are rebuilding and we are telling our enemies “you did not win, and you will not win”.
There are so many thoughts going through my head on this day – but they go so far beyond just THIS day. i think i’ll be working through this one for a few days. i didn’t really think i’d have this much of a “reaction” to this 10th anniversary of that day. I feel like i’m just rambling now. so thanks for reading my rambles.
Remember that day. remember the bravery, the bonding, the strength and resilience. Don’t let the legacy of that day be the horror. Let it be the GOOD. Keep moving forward.