Sunday, September 11, 2011
I'm sure there's a million other blogs going out over the Internet about this day ten years ago. I'm not asking (or wanting) any special recognition...in fact, I'm not deserving of it. After all, I wasn't directly affected by the tragedies of that day. I lost no loved ones, I knew no one in the towers or involved with rescue missions that day. I was one of the lucky ones who got to stand and watch a TV screen miles and miles away from the comfort of a classroom, while thousands of people died and thousands of other people's lives were changed forever. The only thing I have in common with these people, is that I care and that I am touched by the selflessness of those men and women who ran into the danger in order to save lives, and in the end, lost their own.
I'm watching all the remembrance services on TV today and I can't help but feel the need to write about what I'm feeling and what I'm thinking. So, I decided I would tell my story: Where I was when the towers fell.
At the time I was 14 and I believe I had just started my first year of high school. I went to a very small school in Michigan. It was one of those schools where everyone knew everyone else because there weren't a whole lot of people to begin with. I remember walking into my History class, seeing the TVs on and seeing our teacher standing with his arms folded across his chest and a look of disbelief across his face. I knew, I just knew, something wasn't right. I stopped just inside the doorway of the classroom and watched the TV. I saw two tall buildings, one had dark, gray smoke pouring out. I remember thinking, 'was there a fire? what happened?' I guess I didn't realize it, but I said it out loud. My teacher looked at me for a second, then looked back at the screen just as the news reporter explained that a plane had struck the tower. I was still confused. Maybe it was the innocence of a young teenager, or the inexperience of a person who has never seen tragedy in front of her, but I remember thinking that it must have been an accident. The plane must have run out of gas, or malfunctioned and caused it to crash, and instead of crashing into the ground, it hit the building. Thats what I thought, thats probably what I was hoping it was. No one wants to believe that such a horrible thing would happen by the hands and intent of another human being. And then, the second tower was hit.
I sat there, in my desk, staring at that TV for what seemed like hours. I remember my friend at the time, her name was Beth, she pointed out something odd on the screen. We thought it was a fly that had landed on the TV set, but when the camera man zoomed in closer, we saw that it was a person. We watched, in horror, as someone jumped out of the window of the tower and plunged to their death below. Some of you reading this may not believe that we saw this. But we did. This was live coverage. This was before they edited the coverage of that day to cut out these gruesome images. This was before the government ruled these images as inappropriate to broadcast to the public. It may have been nothing but a black blur on the screen as I saw it, but I will never, and have never forgotten that image.
As I sat there, watching the news and really letting the gravity of the situation soak in, I remember looking around at my peers. Some were watching the TV, like me. Others were in the back of the class, laughing and joking. They were happy that we weren't holding class that day. I remember feeling angry. I was so mad that they would be so disrespectful. Why didn't they realize that people were dead? Why didn't they care that something huge had happened today? I didn't understand it then, and I still don't understand it today. I stood up in front of my class and I yelled at them. I won't repeat now the things that I said to them as there were some profane words in the mix. I'm not sure if what I said actually hit home with any of them, but I do know that the classroom was silent after I yelled. And if only for a moment, thats what I felt was appropriate.
Today, I watch the coverage of those events and I see the same images on the TV that I saw ten years ago....and I'm brought right back to that same classroom. The lump in my throat returns. The disbelief, the confusion, the anger, the sadness. I can't help but think, if I'm someone who was not directly affected, I can't even begin to imagine what this day must be like for those who lost a loved one on that fateful day.
I understand that there are different theories on what "really" happened that day. Some believe it was, in fact, a terrorist attack. Others believe it was the act of our own government, within the depths of some twisted conspiracy. I'm not concerned with the theories. I'm not concerned with what others think. I'm only interested in people. People who lost their lives, people who stepped up beyond the call of duty and put their own lives on the line to save someone they never even met. Families who lost a father, a mother, a daughter, a son, a cousin, a nephew, etc. Babies born to a mother that had lost her husband. I'm interested in the beauty and love of one human to another. I don't think that anyone can argue that on that day, around our country, anyone who was watching on TV was putting themselves in the shoes of those who were living through the horror.
I look at my son this morning. He's happy, watching cartoons, eating cereal and wanting to go outside and play. I think to myself that he has no idea, no idea at all, of the seriousness and heartache that this day holds. I know that someday, when he gets to a certain age and a certain class in school, he'll learn about 9/11 from a few pages in his history book. He'll come home and maybe tell me about it or ask me about it, and I'll tell him my story, just as I've told you all today. I'll teach him that although there are horrible things in this world and tragedies like 9/11, there is also good. I'll teach him that sometimes, it takes a tragedy to bring us all together as a people. I'll teach him that although we should remember those lives lost, we should also give thanks for every minute of our lives. Those people that went into work that day in the World Trade Center had no idea, no idea at all, what was going to happen. Did they kiss their loved ones on the way out the door? Did they say, "I love you..." before they left the house that morning? Of course, I don't know for sure, but I'm inclined to believe that these are the types of things that run through our minds before we die. We wonder if we loved enough, if we showed our love. Did we say the right things? Did we do all the right things? Were we good mothers and fathers? So many things that must run through our minds in a second.
For many people, 9/11 reminded us of what's really important. I like to believe that most of realized whats really important is simple: love. Love is the most important thing in this world. In this world of hatred and sin. In this world where neighbors kill one another over their religious beliefs, it is love that will save us. Sounds like lyrics to a 70's love song doesn't it? Since this day, ten years ago, I have been blessed with so many things. I make it a point, every day, to share my love with those who are close to me. 9/11 taught me to do that. And that is why I remember this day.