I am fully aware that there are blogs everywhere posting something in remembrance of September 11th, however I think after 10 years the memories tend to fade and we should all take a moment. I do not have family in New York City, nor did I know anyone personally who died that day, but the moment the towers fell is the most significant historical moment that has occurred to-date in my life. I am simply going to talk about where I was that day and express gratitude to all those who have given selflessly not just that day, or week or month. But over the last 10 years.
Tuesday, September 11, 2001. Denton, Texas.
I was in college that the University of North Texas. I was 21 and shared an apartment with my boyfriend at the time. We had classes that day and I was not scheduled to work so we slept in. The phone rang. Which was unusual for the morning as we were students. I had a cell phone but this was before we were really plugged into the world, with texting and social media. So the phone with a cord that plugged into the wall in the apartment rang too early. My boyfriend’s parents were on the line. I half-listened to one side of the short conversation, and he took off for the living room to turn on the tv. Concerned over the unusual behavior, I rolled out of bed and followed.
There are no words to really describe what I saw.
I stood in the living room of our 2 bedroom apartment, nearly 1600 miles away and yet instantly we were there. Tears started down my face. The people on the tv showed an airplane flying into one of the World Trade Center towers in an infinite loop of video. Confused. Afraid. My mind was going a mile a minute. Both towers were still standing and the first responders were trying to evacuate both buildings. As we sat there and watched as the second plane went into tower two. Oh, Lord. Someone is doing this on purpose!
I rushed to the phone and called my father. He just happened to be home sick that day and I woke him with the same phone call we had received minutes before. “Turn on the tv, someone is flying airplanes into the World Trade Center”.
Back to the tv in our living room, with phone in hand.
Somewhere in the next few minutes the towers fell. Everything seemed to play out in slow motion. These events play out in my memory in what seems like an hour… but it must have been only minutes. My heart sank, there could not be many survivors. Reports that the Pentagon and White House were also targeted started to flood the tv along with images of smoke and rubble. People running everywhere. We were glued to the tv. Amidst all of the emotions, my thoughts drifted to the only reasonable response. War.
The rest of the day is a blur. Classes were cancelled. I know I contacted my mother at some point, as my stepfather was military we were all thinking the same thing. My father medicated himself and drove 45 minutes to Denton that afternoon. We were all in shock and just wanted to be close to each other. There was concern and speculation that the Dallas WTC might be a target. We live in the city that might be the number two financial hub in the US. There was certainly reason for speculation.
Over the course of the next several days/weeks/months we knew that there was little we could do. There were very few survivors and blood donations were through the roof. We donated money where we could. Many joined the military. And we watched and waited from afar. We too were scared, angry and grieving for those innocent lives lost as well as the loss of our safe, secure nation.
In December 2004. I had the opportunity to visit New York City for the first time. Ground Zero was still a small pile of rubble in an empty hole where the towers once stood. Tourists milled about taking pictures. Vendors sold memorabilia brochures and little american flags. It was surreal. I couldn’t bring myself to take pictures. I didn’t want to see myself with my family standing in front of this hole in the ground. All I could think of was the images of that Tuesday morning and how the atmosphere on this day did not reflect the devastation that took place there a little over 3 years before. Maybe it was just that day. Maybe it was the holiday season. Maybe its just our capitalistic mindset, and completely within our rights. But it just wasn’t right for me.
The memorial in that place is now complete, and one day I hope to go back and see it. Maybe now, I can take a picture. Now that more time has passed and there is some closure with the death of Bin Laden. Now that it’s not so raw. Then again, maybe not as the wound is deep and the scar still hurts.
There have been too many over the last 10 years who have lost their lives in response to that day. I am grateful for all those people who work everyday to protect the people in this country. Thank you to our firefighters, police officers, soldiers and reservists, doctors, nurses, social workers, and teachers who dedicate your lives to others as well as their families for giving their loved ones to the rest of us.
On the 10th anniversary I will remember the horror that will remind me of the evil that human beings can do, but also take heart in the saints and angels that quietly walk this earth in human form everyday.