A parent's perspective: Remembering Sept. 11
Today is Sept. 11, 2009. It is eight years after the tragic events in Manhattan, Alexandria, and a field in Pennsylvania. Time has a way of healing old wounds, but sometimes I wonder if time hasn't healed them as much as it's filled our minds and hearts with "more current" things - worries, issues, and "pressing matters."
Regardless, I choose to pick the scab off of the wound of this day - every year. I refuse to let myself forget - I refuse to let both the unintentional and intentional sacrifices of those who died that day just be a figure in a history book.
As I was musing with friends on Facebook this morning (incidentally, if you haven't yet found lite.facebook.com, check it out!), I realized we all have stories to tell. We all remember "where we were" and whatwe were doing - because this event shook us to our cores. And so, with my friends' permission, I share some of their stories. I'm including my story so you don't have to go back through the archives to read it, and if you go here, you'll see a moving slideshow memorial to the people, events, and days that followed the attacks on our country.
* I was pregnant with Brendan - about 5 mos along. I watched the first plane crash in to the tower on the news in utter shock - when the 2nd one hit, the dread that came over me made me want to throw up. To compound the sadness, we had just lost someone - a 3 y/o in our church had drowned weeks before and my hormonal self just couldn't stop crying - for the baby who died, for those who died in the attacks, and for those left behind. Mark & I looked at each other and wondered what we were doing bringing a baby in to a world like this - where hatred was so rampant that people rejoiced at the news of death and tragedy. And yet, this baby was such a cause of joy for us - and as he grows, continues to be. (Sue)
* I was pregnant living in Connecticut and a few hours outside of NYC. I was worried about friends of mine that worked in Manhattan. I saw the 2nd plane hit on t.v. and also saw the towers fall. It was a gut-wrenching day.... (Jolene)
* I remember being at work and getting a call to turn on the TV. I went into my boss' office and we turned on the TV just in time to see the 2nd plane hit live. It was horrible. We didn't know what was going on. We all just sit there watching the news in utter disbelief and I remember feeling so scared. All I could do is cry. None of us could even work that day. It was the first time in my life that I really felt the world was about to end. I remember going home that day and it just feeling really eerie outside. The sky was so blue because there were no planes flying. I just went inside and cried and prayed and asked for God's protection over our country and His peace over all the ones who were personally affected. My heart still aches and I still am moved to tears every time I see those towers fall, especially when I see the pics of the people trapped hopelessly inside so desperate for help that they would jump out of the windows. A very sad day for America. (Carrie)
* I was at work. Patients came in in a state of shock saying they "just heard." At first we all thought it was an accident. Then they came on the radio and said the second plane hit. We had radio, but no TV. I had to wait until about 6pm that night to really see what all was happening. For our generation it will be the same as "where were you when JFK was shot" for our parents. We will never forget..... (Melanie)
* I was in my 10th grade English class when one kid came in late and said a plane crashed into the WTC. Our teacher wouldn't let us see what was going on...she just continued class. I had a space class after my English class and we just sat and watched in silence... I don't think I was there to watch the towers fall. They had gone down before I got to that class. I had a friend that I knew when I lived in Belgium whose father was working at the Pentagon. I couldn't stop thinking about her dad all day. He was fine...but the sadness was awful. I wasn't concerned about being attacked where I lived...but I was overwhelmed with sadness for everyone involved in all the attacks...and their families. I remember all the people trying to get across the Brooklyn bridge that day too. It still hits close to home...today is my first 9/11 working at a news station...it feels kinda surreal. We haven't shown a lot of 9/11 footage...but I watched a bunch on youtube. Still hurts to see it. (Emily)
* I was watching tv as well, and saw it live. Hannah was almost 1 and she was sick, so we were laying on the couch together with the TV on. I couldn't believe it when the towers fell. I just kept saying to John, "They were hit at the top, why are they falling?" and "Aren't there PEOPLE in there?" I remember the news at the time wasn't saying much about the scores of people inside the towers.
It was exactly one year after that that we left for our first term in Hungary. it was kind of scary traveling on the first anniversary, but security was VERY high. (Tricia)
* I was sitting on the floor watching the Today Show changing Weylan's diaper. It was one week after his first birthday. I ran out to the garage to tell Tony as he was leaving for work...at that time they thought it was a little prop plane. By the time I got back to the show, the other plane hit and we knew it was something big happening. Tony was gone...I'll never forget the dread of not being able to contact him because all the cell towers were overloaded! I had just lost someone close to me a few days earlier in a horribly tragic accident so that sense of grief was really fresh. (Jessica)
As you can tell, we all have our own stories. Our own tales of how this awful day affected us - and continues to affect us. Some were in shock for a while, some people experienced a delayed sense of shock out of need to compartmentalize and function during the aftermath of the attack.
I'm reminded in the years since the attack how easy it is to let this matter become politicized - for people to armchair quarterback and say 'we deserved it,' or 'the attackers were justified'. But for a few months after the attacks (and I refuse to call it anything other than that, lest I do attempt to politicize it), we weren't Democrats and Republicans - we were all Americans. We were united in the belief that those who died didn't deserve to die and that those who caused it were evil personified - and we all supported each other, across partisan lines and differing belief systems.
May it be so once again in this time of remembrance. I encourage you to memorialize this day and its events however you see fit - just remember it & honor what it means to our country.
Sue is a freelance information consultant, homeschooling mom, and writes regularly at A Mother's Heart