All of us who are old enough to remember know exactly where we were when we first heard about what was happening in New York City on September 11, 2001.
I was a stay-at-home mom at the time. Only my oldest daughter was in school full-time. My son was enrolled in afternoon preschool and my youngest daughter was only two years old.
We were in the midst of our usual weekday morning routine. The routine went something like this: The kids would make messes; I would clean them up. Repeat.
The TV was on, but not on network TV. I’m pretty sure it was set on Nick Jr. and we were watching Blue’s Clues as it was a favorite. Life was normal.
Until my husband called from his workplace.
He told me to turn the TV to a network channel because an airplane had just hit one of the World Trade Center towers in New York. My first thought was, how could a plane mistakenly fly into downtown New York City and hit a building? I assumed it was a mechanical error or the pilot had a medical emergency.
I turned the channel. Just moments after I started watching, the second plane hit the second tower. My mind was in a state of confusion. One plane hitting a building could be an accident. But two?? My confusion and disbelief continued as Flight 93 went down in Pennsylvania. It turned to horror as I watched people jumping from the skyscrapers and witnessed the Twin Towers falling to the ground.
My 4-year-old son knew something was wrong, even though I tried to keep most of this tragedy away from my young kids’ eyes. His first worry was that his Uncle Bob (my oldest brother) was okay. My son knew that rescue workers were in danger as they tried to help victims. My brother was a police officer in California, not New York City, but it still made an impression on my young son’s mind.
As the facts emerged and it became apparent that this was a terrorist attack on our country and its land, it was the first time I’d really ever been afraid for my kids and their future. What kind of life was ahead for them if these type of incidents became life as usual?
As for the terrorists, what kind of god do they serve that killing thousands of innocent people as well as themselves is something to be honored and desired?
I think one of the images I remember the most was the next morning when the news stations were showing the emergency rooms of the New York City hospitals. I had expected to see the emergency rooms bustling with activity as medical personnel attended to the injured people’s needs. However, the emergency rooms were practically empty because there were very few survivors. Unfathomable.
Days and weeks after the terrorist attack, stories kept emerging about people who called their loved ones from the Twin Towers to say good-bye after the towers were hit because they knew their chances of survival were slim. People–both emergency personnel and civilians–who lost their own lives trying to help others. People who survived but will be forever scarred from the experience.
To these people I want to say, “I remember.” I may live hundreds of miles and several states away. I may not personally know anyone who experienced a loss of a loved one on the day. But I remember.