Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Where were you?

As the years go by, my generation will always be able to recall where we were on 9-11-01. It is chiseled into our memory. One of my best childhood friends remembers that day of our senior year vividly. As I reflect back to ten years ago, to my senior year in high school, I now see how little I understood. I was political, involved, dynamic. I quoted President Bush under my senior yearbook photo. I talked a big game, but I was so young, so immature, so blind. I believed that all people were inherently good. War was a foreign concept I studied in history books. It was stories from my grandfathers. It wasn't real to me.

Then, in one instant, on a normal morning, my comfort level changed. People were no longer good. In that year, war became real. My memory is fuzzy. I remember being in homeroom (Ms. McConnell's), but I don't honestly recall what I was doing that morning or what I was wearing. More than likely, my hair was still wet and I was putting on makeup at my desk. I was probably downing coffee or a diet coke. I'm sure I was preoccupied by Junior Miss or Homecoming or yearbook deadlines or something else I had deemed more important than my classes. But I do remember watching the second plane hit and suddenly, time stood still.

I remember wanting to check on my sister in the middle school to make sure she was okay. I wanted to get her and leave, to be in the comfort of family. I remember being genuinely scared, living in a town with an Air Force base. I remember the weeks that followed. There were prayer rallies and memorial services and moments of silence. It was all so strange. How could something so horrible have actually happened? 

But it wasn't until I visited NYC in the summer of 2005, pressed my face against the chain link fencing, and stared into the gaping hole where two towers once stood that it became strikingly real. I realized that this place would forever be a part of my life's history. C will come home from school one day and ask me where I was that day, the way I asked my grandfather and great uncle about Vietnam. To her, it will be a story in her history book that I will have to explain to her. I will have to make her realize that it isn't just a story in her text book, but was a day that altered Americans forever. It was a day that made us anxious and fearful, but it was also a day that made us unified and proud.

I may not remember each detail, but I will never forget that feeling. We constantly hear, "never forget" and some may think that means living in the past. Where does that get you? But, perhaps in remembering, we can reflect upon the feeling of a unified nation. In remembering, we can appreciate and honor those who died that day. In remembering, we can move forward as a strong community and ensure a future of freedom for our children and our children's children. This country really is the home of the brave.

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