I remember logging onto my computer that morning and seeing a headline under the “news stories” section asking “Accident or Terrorism?” It wouldn’t be long before we all knew it was no accident.
I remember calling Smitty at his office and him immediately coming home.
I remember watching TV news reports with him all day and all night and the horror and helplessness we both felt.
I remember the utter fear I felt when the Pentagon was hit. I thought, “they’re attacking everywhere and Austin could very well be in their sights.”
I remember seeing the second plane hit the WorldTradeCenter and feeling sick to my stomach. When both towers collapsed onto themselves, I remember actually crying.
I remember all the people in New York City talking to TV cameras and posting photos of their loved ones, begging someone to tell them they were okay.
I remember hearing the company name “Cantor-Fitzgerald” again and again. I had never heard of it before, but now 11 years later, I still remember it.
I remember being amazed that even ESPN was covering only the horrific events unfolding.
I remember Kristen getting off the bus that afternoon and I asked her if she’d heard anything in school. She said something about “bad guys in New York.”
I remember President Bush standing with volunteers and blaring into that bull-horn.
I remember firefighters draping that giant flag on the Pentagon.
I remember being so very grateful that Smitty was not traveling that week.
I remember hearing the Alan Jackson song for the first time.
I remember changing my Fall-themed flag outside my house to a generic stars and stripes one. It wasn’t the American flag, but it was close enough.
I remember buying a newspaper on 9/12 at a gas station not really near my home. I’m not sure why I went there to buy it, but to this day, every time I pass it I think of 9/11.
I distinctly remember certain photo images: the firefighter in the WTC stairwell, the skeleton frame of the WTC standing among the ruins, people dashing into buildings as the towers fell, filling Manhattan with a cloud of dust.
I remember the video of Andy Card whispering in President Bush’s ear while he read to Florida school children.
I remember embassies around the world creating memorials and tributes on our behalf.
When I think back to September 11, 2001 I also think of the fireman I had in my house all day. He did contracting on the side and had been scheduled to replace my kitchen backsplash that day. All day I kept telling him to go home to his family but he insisted he wanted to stay, that doing the work gave him something to do amidst all the dismay. I will never, ever forget what he said when the second tower fell. He looked at the TV and solemnly said, “A lot of firemen just died.” How prophetic that I shared the awfulness of that fateful day with a fireman and that firefighters ended up being the true heroes of the day. For many years I called him every September 11 just to see how he was.
How are we today as a country? We are far from the united front we demonstrated following the attacks and are instead a fractured society that has somehow forgotten what happened that day and how we felt. How exactly we felt. I feel it every time I watch a “Friends” rerun and see a skyline shot that includes the TwinTowers. I have a Barbie book in my classroom that I keep safe and out of three-year-old hands because the “Business Barbie” page includes a photo of the WorldTradeCenter.
Where you were on 9/11/01? Have the 11 years that have passed changed your opinion of things? Why? How? My hope is that all of you will take a moment today to remember your thoughts of that day and the days that followed. Wouldn’t it be nice to be truly the UNITED States again? Mostly, let’s all consider and respect the nearly 3,000 innocent people who lost their lives and the cherished family members they left behind. It’s all something we should never, ever forget.