I was late to school on September 11th – high school that is. I had a doctor’s appointment that morning and was riding with my mom when the first plane hit. I remember exactly where I was when the second plane hit and the radio announcer said: “This cannot be an accident.”
I was in New Orleans.
My husband – who I didn’t know yet – was in uniform at his University taking an in-between-class-nap in his Yukon when he received the first call on September 11th. He walked to his next class unable to ignore that every eye turned toward him, some people even stopping, as he entered the building in his BDU’s.
He was in Mississippi.
A year or two ago I was asked to speak to a group of teenagers who were participating in a troops drive and I spoke about how I was their age when this all began. Many of them had very little recollection or specific memories of September 11th and I was dumbfounded. That day is engrained into my memory. Every second from the time that second plane hit is catalogued, step-by-step in my mind. I remember entering my school. I remember the absolute silence with the exception of the televisions in the classrooms. I remember concentrating on the sound of my footsteps. I remember falling to my knees and then to the ground when a friend asked if I had spoken to my brother. I remember hearing my mother’s panic and absolute despair as she told me they took Natalie and Michael out of class to inform them that no contact had been made with our brother. I remember trying his number over and over and over again and getting an error message. I will never forget my mother begging for prayers. I remember going over and over again in my head that Nick was playing tourist and had been there a day or two before with the intention to go back on this day. I will never forget the absolute twisting of my insides every time he didn’t answer.
I will never, ever forget the first time I heard his trembling voice that day. When I finally spoke to my brother the evening of September 11th, he talked about the sky. Continuously repeating his description of the billowing blackness that covered the sky and blocked out the sun as he looked out his window. I had never heard my brother cry until that day. I have not heard him cry since.
He was in New York.
I will never forget that day. That day changed me. It changed my life.
It defined us as a country. A horrendous act of hatred brought out the goodness in people. For that day, we were all the same. We were unified. We were all Americans.
It is hard for me to process that a decade has passed since that day. It seems so fresh. At the same time, it feels a lifetime away. My heart breaks for the families of the heroes and victims of that day. There are no words for how very sorry I am for their losses. An entire nation grieves with them on this day and every day. We will never forget.
I will never forget.