by Moorgard on 2002-09-11You always hear stories from your parents or grandparents what it was like the day Kennedy was shot, or the day Pearl Harbor was attacked. I think, for our generation, September 11 will be our story... where we were, what we were doing, how we reacted. It will be the tale we tell to our children and grandchildren, hoping that somehow our words can convey a fraction of the emotion of that day.
I was at work. Shortly after arriving in the morning, one of my coworkers exclaimed something about a plane hitting the World Trade Center. The first image that popped into my head was that maybe some private plane had gone off course and hit one of the towers. After getting sketchy confirmation on the Internet (my god, how slow the news sites were!), many of us went downstairs to the building's exercise room, which housed the sole TV we could access.
We got down there just after the second plane hit.
I couldn't believe it. Literally. I stood there, mouth agape, watching the footage over and over of the planes hitting, smoke and flames billowing out of the towers, and it just didn't seem real. As more and more news came in, and it became clear that this was a series of planned attacks, it seemed like the whole world was turning upside down. And later, when I watched those towers collapse into clouds of debris, it felt like my heart collapsed, too.
I didn't lose any friends or family that day. Thankfully, the people I knew in New York were safe. But to see the fear and loss on the faces of the people in that city... I don't know how anyone could not be affected. I cried many tears that day, and in the days following. Just the site of an American flag would make my throat catch and my eyes swell with tears.
Now, one year later, I find my eyes blurry once again when I see families being interviewed as they hold pictures of their loved ones who were lost. I see photos of children who will never again see their fathers, mothers, or siblings. Parents who will never again see the child that they lost. Husbands and wives who will never again hold their spouse in their arms. So much pain. So much loss.
The events of one year ago were brought about by politics and hate. They were designed to send a message to a nation, yet the real devastation happened not on a national scale, but on a personal one. It wasn't politicians and bureaucrats that were most wounded, it was families and children. And while we mourn as a nation, the real pain is felt inside the homes of those who were lost. The kind of pain that will never go away.
September 11 is a day of loss. But it is also a day of heroes, of sacrifices, of strength. Through a dark act that cut deeply into our hearts, the best of America was brought forth and shown to all the world. I hope we remember that, even as we mourn those who are gone.
Never forget. Never, ever forget.