As the tenth anniversary of September 11 approaches, we seem to be overrun with images and stories of that day…that I can’t imagine we will EVER forget. Changes in the way we communicate over the past ten years mean that unless you completely unplug this weekend, one can’t help but be brought to tears by the memories.
I can’t imagine what people whose lives were more directly affected than mine are going through. I would never pretend to do so. But this was a seminal moment for all us in our own ways. It’s like Kennedy’s assassination was for my generation. We were all affected. We all have stories.
Sharing those stories is part of the recovery process. It’s also part of the process whereby we can make sure we never forget. We are passing the memories on to the next generation. Here’s my story:
I arrived home at 2 AM September 11 after visiting my mom in Portland. The phone rang about 5 AM our time (9 ET) and that’s rarely good news but especially since my husband was in the Alaska Air National Guard. I remember Alan listening for a few seconds and silently getting up. Normally I go back to sleep but this seemed different and I couldn’t shake that feeling. He explained all they had told him…basically, there has been a terrorist attack and I need to go to work. I went downstairs with him as he got ready and we watched events unfolding on the East Coast. As he left for work, I wondered when he would be home.
I woke the kids (six and eight) for school because I instinctively knew we had to keep some sort of normalcy in their schedule. As they came to breakfast I explained what I knew and they quickly asked about my friend, Angela, who worked in the Pentagon (we learned the next day she was okay). They left for school where the teachers maintained a sense of normalcy. Like the rest of the world, I was glued to the television, and I knew our world would never be the same.
The sense of community that developed from 9/11 is something I still remember. The sense that we’re all in this together and by banding together we could begin to heal. The need to be with others and share our experiences began that sense of healing. Opportunities to volunteer and help others were quickly filled by those wanting to help. We were one America. We were strong and we were committed to recovering and moving on.
I will never forget that day. I will never forget the days that followed. I will never forget the times we said goodbye to service members who have given so much since that day. I will never forget the volunteers who gave so much to help others through the crisis. I will never forget the sense of community.
And it’s that sense of community I wish we could get back. I wish we could again begin to work together for a better world. I wish we could listen to each other and learn from our differences how to improve our world. I wish we could regain the pride in our country that developed out of 9/11.
I hope my wishes will come true.