Never Forget -From the West Coast

If you ask our parent's generation where they were on November 22, 1963, they can go into perfect detail of that day; the day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. It is a defining moment in our nation's history and for our parent's generation. It set a point of reference for our country, a moment of change.

Today is September 11, 2008, exactly 7 years ago today another defining moment happened in OUR generation and it has set a new point of reference and enlightenment for this nation. And I can tell you exactly where I was, what I was doing and [good or bad] how it has changed me forever.

At 6:50 am our clock-radio alarm goes off, we usually hear bits of weather and news in our groggy state, but what we hear that morning is that a small plane has crashed in one of the Twin Towers in New York. Our hearts stop. My husband flies out of bed to get to the TV in the living room. This is not good. He's been to NY, I haven't but we both felt that this was NOT RIGHT. Small planes just don't fly into skyscrapers.

This was not an accident.

We turned on the Today Show, Katie Couric is interviewing a local woman by phone. We are staring at images of black smoke rising from the top of the first tower. My heart sinks further into my chest and I start praying. I look at this image on the TV, an entire country between us, and I know that there are people trapped up there. How are they going to get those people up there? [Little did I know what would ensue in the next hours.] I began to panic for them, to cry for them, for their families feeling helpless.

Getting to work was no longer in the forefront of my mind, I was glued helplessly to the TV - hoping for a miracle. Knowing already that this was more than a small plane accident, that this was intentional, hoping I was dreaming and would wake up to that 6:50 am alarm telling me that it was going to be a warm day outside...

And then as we are watching and listening, trying to digest everything, we see it; the second plane coming into the frame.  An awkward angle, wings tilted, then it's gone. We both SCREAM with the woman on the phone to Katie Couric. Smoke bellows out of Tower 2 and it's confirmed - This was NO accident. 

There we sat in our quiet little living room, safe. In shock. In horror. Helpless. We watched as word came out about the Pentagon. We watched as the nation's airports were shut down. Then the news of the flight going down in Somerset County, PA. But worst of all, we watched the Towers go down. I nearly threw up when the first one went down. And I felt the sting of hopelessness and helplessness.

And I still had to go to work.

I got in my car to make the commute north, past Los Angeles International Airport, to the school I worked at. I was late, as were many people. There was an eerie silence in the air that Tuesday and for the days that followed with no flights. As if, Los Angeles was standing in a moment of silence for her sister city on the East Coast.

I can't tell you what happened that day - it's all a blur. I believe we went home early, as soon as the kids left. We all felt sick. Sick for days. When I arrived home I watched more of the news broadcasts, heard the stories of courage and heartbreak coming out of New York, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania. I weeped over the images.

Yes, I was on the West Coast. Far from it all. I had never been to New York, my grief was not on a first-hand basis. But I am an American, this was a vicious cold-blooded attack on our country but to the very fabric of what our country was founded on.

I grieved and prayed for the victims of that tragic day and their loved ones. I know what it is to lose those you love - but not in such an unfathomable [in this writer's opinion] senseless act of terrorism.

2, 974 innocent victims died that day. 1,300 children became orphans in a matter of minutes. A senseless act of terrorism. Meant to bring us to our knees. But what history will tell anyone and the terrorist neglected to realize is that what they did that day only lit a fire under us. Many of us got down on our knees all right, but not to crumble in defeat but to pray to our God. Despite all our differences, we united that day. They sent us a message.

We sent a message in kind. WE WILL NOT BE DISCOURAGED. We will not lay down and surrender. THIS IS OUR NATION.

When the planes started flying again, it made people [including me] jumpy. We had to get used to a new way of thinking. We had to get past the inclination to live in fear of the unknown. Where is that plane going? What CAN happen next?

But there was joy in that day, too. Over 10,000 babies were born that day alone. 2, 974 people died, 10,000 babies born.

Why do I think of this? Because a wonderful woman, my dear friend who introduced me to my husband, gave birth that morning to her son. He was born on the morning of 9/11. For him it represents a joyful day...  A Birthday.

And that is something to never forget.

9/11 is a marker for this generation. Ask anyone where they were on that day and they can tell you in detail. Our nation is an infant compared to other nations of the world and to some extent we were a bit naive regarding our status and success in the world. That maybe we were invincible. On September 11, 2001 that all changed.

We have grown up.

One of my favorite New Yorkers posted a powerful poem in memory of that day; written by a 14-year-old girl moved by what she saw that day. go visit Daryl.

Then go hug your family and say a prayer for the families of 9/11.

7 comments:

Brittany said...

I have said many prayers today. I wake up every year, since that day, and I feel such surreal sadness- like it didn't really happen. I'm still so sad, sometimes. Whenever I see "9:11" on a clock, I pray, and I seem to see it a lot anymore.

Thanks for sharing where you were. I need to do this, too!

Andi said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. I could not find words. I hope you do not mind, but when I posted today, I linked here to you. Your post was so moving and beautiful. I wanted the few people that read my blog to find your words...Thank you.

Joe said...

I can't believe it was 7 years ago. I still remember it like it was yesterday. Being in NYC that day - and in the weeks afterwards - was like being in a ghost town.

Thanks for dropping by my blog and for your comment.

Kathryn said...

What a perfect post.

My husband knew right away it wasn't an accident too. But I was so naive (or maybe arrogant?). I never thought we would be attacked like that.

Thanks for the link. I'll have to check it out.

Christina said...

What a beautiful post. 7 years later...it still brings tears to my eyes and makes my heart constrict in horror to remember. None of us will ever forget that day.

That poem? WOW!

And I love the reminder that good things came from that day, too.

Cara said...

Thank you for the post, it was so moving. You are right that even after 7 years many people still hear a plane flying low and wonder in the back of their mine...is something going on. I also can vividly remember where I was.
Happy Birthday to your fiends little boy.

carrie said...

9/11 was always the day my sweet niece was brought into this world, too...until 7 years ago. And now she has to share her day with such a tragic, sad event.

I have a very scary 9/11 story that I shared the past 2 years...I will certainly never forget either.

http://barelycontrolledchaos.wordpress.com/2007/09/11/i-havent-forgotten/

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