It seems hard to believe that it has been 14 years since that fateful day when our world changed. And yet, today we honor that day and remember those who lost their lives in the terror attacks on the United States on 9/11.
Even though 14 years have passed, I still remember the day vividly. I was visiting family in Colorado, and currently lived right outside of Washington, DC. My then husband was at home. When we got up that morning, we turned on the television just in time to see the first plane hit the Twin Towers. And then the next one. I was at a hotel with my brother and remember begging him to go get his children from school when it became apparent that America was under attack. And then the Pentagon was hit. My husband happened to be riding the train to work about that time, and his train passed right around the Pentagon. It took me almost two hours before I could get through to his office to find that he had arrived at work and was okay. Then the courageous passengers who took the plane down before it could make its way to the DC area, avoiding yet another tragedy and giving their lives in the process.
This was one of those things where many of us, at least I did, found ourselves glued to the television. It was horrific to watch, and yet impossible to tear yourself away. So many tears were shed watching those events unfold. Yes, our world had changed, and changed drastically. It was a time when we learned that the country we loved was vulnerable to those who wanted to harm us.
And while all of those things were terrible, there are other memories of that time. These are the ones I choose to focus on in remembering that time in our world.
I found myself stuck in Colorado because at least in the beginning, no planes were being allowed to fly into the DC area and my flight was to Dulles airport. On September 15, I took the first flight allowed to fly into Dulles. It is a day I will never forget. I remember a pilot giving instructions to a very frightened group of passengers about how we could react and do something if our plane was hijacked. I recall flight attendants who encouraged us to introduce ourselves to our neighbors because today we were all family. I remember a sense of empowerment that settled on all of us that day, a sense of knowing that while we had been attacked, we would not be defeated. It was a pride in who we are and everything our country stood for. I remember the courage displayed, from our first responders, to every day folks who just helped others along the way.
How much our world has changed in 14 years! Social media as we know it today didn’t exist then. Things were done via email. On my return home, I sent an email to friends to tell them about our flight home. If you’d like to read more about it, you can find it here. (Yes, I had a different last name then.)
Forever engrained in my mind are the last words of our pilot right before we took off that day on our way to Dulles. It was, simply, “It is no mistake that the US Constitution begins with the words ‘we, the people” because today that is who we are, THE people, and we will not be defeated.” And in that speech, those powerful words calmed us and reminded us that we are a might nation indeed. Today, as we pause to remember those lost lives on that date, I encourage you to remember that indeed, we ARE the people. We live in a powerful nation, one that is strong and will not be defeated. Our world changed that day, and yet it did not change who we are, a strong and powerful people.
What is your greatest memory of 9/11? I’d love to hear it.