Remembering

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I wasn’t going to post anything more than a photo this morning, but the emotion of this day is getting to me, as it always does. We all remember where we were 14 years ago today. After I saw the flags at half-mast at my kids’ school, and the local radio station played I’m Proud to Be an American— all these reminders stirring my butterflies–I decided to write my memories down.

I first heard about the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 on the radio on my way to work. I would’ve heard about them sooner except for a series of circumstances that made that particular morning unusual for me.

It was a Tuesday, my late day. I didn’t need to be at work until 10:00, so I slept in. I had a home visit scheduled with my favorite client that evening at 7:00. A little 9 year old boy. He was going to show me a picture of his mom and tell me about his day at school. Back in those days, my pre-kid working days, I almost always watched the Today show while I was getting ready for work. But for some reason, that morning I forgot to turn on the TV. I didn’t decide not to watch, and I wasn’t running late. I just simply forgot.

When I got in the car, the volume was all the way down on my radio because I’d been talking on the phone as I drove home the day before. I didn’t notice that I couldn’t hear the radio until I was maybe 5 minutes from work.

When I finally turned the volume up, some British newscaster was reporting. The radio station had cut in with BBC. It took my brain a minute to register that something unusual was happening. That no music played through my speakers. This was a special news report, and something that the regular DJs couldn’t just announce on their own.

At work that morning, there was a closed door board meeting going on, so when I walked in the building, nobody was in the lobby except for some lady I didn’t know watching a television that wasn’t usually there. I stood next to her and we watched the news in silence. It as if the whole world had gotten up and left while I slept in and failed to pay attention, and then once I looked up, it had been replaced by this new, darker world that I didn’t recognize.

An hour and 14 minutes passed between when the first plane hit the World Trade Center and when I finally took notice. I slept, woke up, brushed my teeth, and drank coffee as if I were still an ordinary American living through an ordinary day. For a long time, I felt guilty about that hour and 14 minutes. The rest of the country was suffering. I should’ve been paying attention.

Now, on this day, I drive around and go about my day, but it’s always quieter, heavier. The sight of a flag or a firefighter causes tears to prick my eyes. That same radio station I listened to 14 years ago replays audio from the newscasts of that fateful morning and my heart beats a little faster. And I can’t help but think that somewhere in the last 14 years, our country has changed again. It was gradual, not the sudden boom that turned our world upside down in one day. But we grew apart again, as I suppose was inevitable.

But if anything good actually came out of the horror, it was that the so many people came together and behaved so marvelously, selflessly, bad-assedly AMERICAN. First responders gave their lives to save others. Strangers hugged each other. Congress stopped fighting each other. People prayed and offered love and support. Americans were proud to be Americans. That may never happen again, but it makes me proud to know that it’s inside of us. God bless America, and thank you all for sharing part of this day with me.

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6 comments

  1. What a lovely and heartfelt piece about your experience. Most of us experience at least one world event that years in the future we can still remember exactly what we were doing when it occurred. And I think for all of us, this was one of them. (Those who were alive when Kennedy was shot say that was one of those moments too.)

    My husband and I were home on vacation, and I sat on the couch with a bowl of cereal, planning to watch Regis and Kelly, something I rarely did given my day job. But instead of Regis and Kelly, I saw a plane fly through the Towers in real time (it was the second plane, shortly after 9 am). It was horrifying, and it took several minutes for me–and my husband when I called him in–to process what was going on. Such a horrifying event, but as you say, one that united us as a country like nothing else has, at least not in my lifetime.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. thank you Nicole for this beautiful sentiment.

    As my colleagues and I stood in the research atrium (where I work) and saw the smoke curl through the air across the way at the Pentagon it was as if we were keeping watch – the only thing we could do. How can you walk away and ‘work’ when people are dead or dying?

    Later on I found out that Sheila, my friend Peggy’s partner and Zoe and her family on the way to Australia lost their lives that day.

    There is much to love about our country. Even with all our troubles – set in our ways – self-centeredness among them – we are still the place ‘where freedom rings.’

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful reminder for us all. It is too easy to move on. MLK, jr. once said that we are a 2 week nation. With a major event, after 2 weeks we push it to the back and move on. (Oversimplification) It occurs in personal as well as public life. It is sad that, even tough we remember the event of 9/11/2011, we forget what pulled us through as a nation and move on. I dream of a day that, even with differences, we are willing to recognize the need to focus on what is best for all and how we work through and in spite of our differences.

    Liked by 1 person

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