Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years Later ~ September 11, 2001

I am so enthralled with the history of my ancestors that many times I forget that I will be part of history some day. I wrote about this before in a post about having seen the Wall between West and East Germany and now it is gone. This is for my future generations who might wonder what it was like back in the olden days of 2001.

9/11 (September 11, 2001) will forever be a historic marker on the pride and resilience of Americans. I wonder if the Terrorists responsible counted on America standing strong and collectively circling the wagons to take care of its own. There was a rash of military enlistments after this unspeakable act of cowardess, people became Hero's in an instant and everyone that day was an American, not just the neighbor you really didn't like. Did the Terrorists know at the time that what they did was strengthen a country and each and every family that lives under America's glorious flag? There is something that happens to humans when we are put on the defensive, we are protective and we will take care of business. Anger, pettiness and cruelty is put aside as tragedy is a quick reminder of all of the things we love or admire comes front and center for us to clearly see and how fragile they are. For a while we could forget animosity and hold hands while we collectively struggled through the pain of trying to understand this act of violence.

For me it was a normal work day. I worked at a small family owned business and one of the engineers came in to our office with the oddest look on his face and said he couldn't believe it but a jet had crashed into one of the buildings in NYC. We looked at him with disbelief and went to the television in the meeting room to turn on CNN and couldn't believe what we were seeing. In the meantime it was time for me to go to the post office so I did that and as I came out and sat in my car the radio said the second plane had crashed into the other Tower. What??! My apartment was across the street so I went there to turn on the news thinking I had misheard what was being said and there, just in time, I saw the footage of the second airliner making its final journey. Then came the news it was possibly a terrorist attack. Stunned, being a female, that maternal instinct of wanting nothing but my children with me and right now kicked in, I made myself drive back to the office where we sat watching a tv as reports came in about the plane in Pennsylvania and the brave passengers making sure more didn't die. There are moments in a life that you just do not forget. Ever. This is a moment for me. I will never forget the very real visual of the news footage. I will never forget the feeling of my heart sinking and my gut twisting. I will never forget that urge to collect my children and protect them. I will never forget the anguish I felt for the victims as the death toll alarmingly rose. I will never forget the looks on the faces of those I worked with as we watched helplessly with tears staining our cheeks in stunned silence. I will never forget how I wished I had been there to help; even if it was handing out a cup of water. I will never forget the stories of people coming together in NYC to help each other no matter what culture or class they were. I will never forget the admiration I hold for the few people I know who made their way to the tragic site risking their own life to help; it's what they do. I will never forget all the people who died that I did not know and the few I did know but not face to face but an online community I interact in. Still, they were special and their absence is still felt 10 years later. I will never forget the kindness of my boss and the look in his eyes when he told his two female employees to go home to our children. You never saw two women move so fast. I will never forget the fear in my 11 year old daughters eyes and her being afraid to go back to school. What if a plane drove into her school, she asked. For days she was afraid to leave me, she said she didn't want me to go away. Could I assure her nothing would happen to us here in a place you wouldn't think of as a target? It stayed with her quite a while, her school art work depicted planes and buildings.  
I am extremely proud of my American Heritage. I come from a line of generations that have fought for this country since the American Revolution. This is not the first time American's stood strong to protect American soil and 9/11 will not be the last. 9/11 gave us a glimmer of what it was like to be our ancestors of generations past from the attack on Pearl Harbor to the first battle of the Civil War and further still to the first battle of the Revolutionary War. 9/11 is a bit more personal by the mode in which our enemies chose to attack us going after innocent and helpless civilians. Every generation has that kick in the pants reminder about who and what we are.

Today I am thankful for those that saw us through one of our darkest hours with courage and selflessness. Policeman, fireman, military and every citizen who reached out a hand, I thank you. I thank you all for reminding us all what it is to be an American and in general, a decent human being. Thank you for giving up your own lives to those who were in need and terrified beyond anything comprehendible. A string of pretty words can not possibly measure the actual feelings or do the moment justice. To our teachers, thank you for helping our children through this. This post does not say enough.

God Bless America.

I will never forget.

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