Tuesday morning. September 11, 2001 dawned and I awoke before 5:45. I remember lying in bed waiting for my alarm to go off. I had slept with the windows open and noted the crisp feeling of fall in the air. I had no idea the world as I knew it was about to change. At 5:45 I dragged myself out of bed, grabbed my How to Succeed in College textbook, and snuggled back under the covers to learn more about how to manage my time. I was consumed by my own little world. How was I do know the events unfolding on the other side of the country. It was close to 6:20 when I heard the garage door open. I knew my parents were home from the gym. I expected the usual routine: my mom would hop in the shower, Dad would prep his lunch, and at 6:30 I would join the duo beginning my beautification process. However, this morning was different.
“Kids, there’s been an attack!” World Trade Center? What was that? And moreover, where? I flew out of bed (highly unusual for species such as myself) and within seconds stood in front of the television. What I saw I would never forget. Two towers, tall, formidable, on fire. News reports were still coming in, and I wasn’t sure exactly what happened. But, like thousands of Americans, I knew we had been attacked. 8:46. 9:03. 9:37. Timestamps that became all too familiar in the days that followed. 9:59 - glued to the TV I watch with millions of others as World Trade Center 2, the South Tower, collapses. Looking back, I think that was the moment I realized this was serious. The towers weren’t supposed to fall. 10:03 – reports of a plane in Pennsylvania come in soon after. 10:28 – Tower 1 collapses.
We all know what happened next. In our own way we picked up the pieces and marched on. Nine years later, the events of that fateful Tuesday have grown more and more polarized. Everyone has an opinion on what went wrong and how we should fix it. However, I believe we should set aside our differences, rise above partisanship and sensationalism, and recognize this day as we have in the past: as a tribute to the men, women, and children who are no longer with us. This is a time for remembering, for honoring those who lost and gave their lives on September 11. And to pay homage to the thousands of volunteers who, to this day, pay the price for their heroic efforts in the months that followed.
Now I have my own “where were you when…” moment. My own Pearl Harbor, presidential assassination, V-E day. Did I want it? Did any of us want it? No, but we didn’t realize that until it happened. One day my children will ask me, “Mom, where were you on 9/11?” just as I asked my parents about JFK. To this day I sometimes tear up when I think about that day. The emotions come flooding back, and suddenly I’m a frightened 18 year old again. I remember seeing United 93 with my brother and within ten minutes tears were flowing down my cheeks. The passengers depicted in the film hadn’t even boarded the plane yet, and I was an emotional basket case. Adam and I shared something very special that day. We bonded, and I will never forget that moment.
Just as we will never forget.
"Once again we meet to commemorate the day we have come to call 9/11. We have returned to this sacred site to join our hearts together, the names of those we loved and lost. No other public tragedy has cut our city so deeply. No other place is as filled with our compassion, our love and our solidarity." -Mayor Bloomberg
"Let today never, ever be a national holiday. Let it not be a celebration," said Karen Carroll, who lost her brother, firefighter Thomas Kuveikis. "It's a day to be somber; it's a day to reflect on all those thousands of people that died for us in the United States."