Each year when this date comes around, I remember where I was when I saw the Twin Towers go down. I was living in Texas, and getting ready for work. I had the news on, and saw live video of a plane going into the first tower. I thought I was seeing footage from Beruit or some other place.
Once I knew what I was looking at, my legs collapsed under me. I was both numb and horrified, and couldn’t believe what was happening. Then I realized that those two planes had innocent people aboard and that I was watching their death. The same with all the people in the towers; people who were simply at work, doing their jobs as any other day.
When we heard about Flight 93, where people just like you and me came together to stop the terrorists from flying the plane into the White House, I wept again. These people knew that they would never see or hold their loved ones again, but came together as an army. This is heroism of the highest kind.
September 11, 2001 became my personal Pearl Harbor. Everything before that time was another life; everything after was yet another life where terrorists had come into my country and killed my countrymen. That such a thing could happen in America changed me and all Americans forever.
When I finally got into work, everyone was clustered in one area, watching the footage. Some were in tears, some were stunned into silence. The first person I saw was an Arabian man who worked in my department. I was horrified to feel intense hatred for him; at that moment, he was the face of those men who had brought about this disaster. I am still ashamed to this day for what I felt.
That night I joined hundreds of people in line to give blood. It was all I could think of to do, and we as total strangers talked about what happened. As we stood and talked, we all realized that life as we knew it was over. America was just as vulnerable to attack as any other country.
As the events unfolded over time, I heard about all the people who should have been in the towers or in the planes that day, but for one reason or another, were not. Can you imagine how they felt and still do feel?
The Crankee Yankee and I were engaged at the time, and he was still in New Hampshire. We called each other, comforting each other over the phone. Later on that month, his daughter was getting married to her first husband at West Point where they both had graduated. When I flew up for the ceremony, I had had to ask my doctor for a tranquilizer. Up to 9/11 I had loved to fly, but this time I was terrified. That was the last time I flew.
Each year I honor the victims in my heart at this time. I know people who lost friends and loved ones, and my heart still aches for them. I know that many young men and women went straight into the military following 9/11; bless them for their own service and sacrifice.
We cannot, must not ever forget this life-changing event. We have seen too many incidents here and around the globe proving that there is a clear and present danger always. For the sake of all who died, let us not forget, but remember. Let us stay strong, stay vigilant, and most of all, let us not let terrorism invade our lives, hearts and minds. Let us not give up on people or ourselves or what we believe in.
Let us all remember and learn.