Remembering 9/11 — NYC, DC, and PA

“Where were you when the world stopped turning?” asks a line in Alan Jackson’s song that he recorded after the horrific events of 9/11.  I don’t know about you but I can still remember exactly where I was on that morning that is now 17 years ago today.

I was at work in a public relations office at the time.  We turned on the news just after the first plane hit the first Twin Tower in New York City.  At the time, people were not sure if it was an accident or deliberate. We watched as the second plane hit the second tower.  We then knew that life would not be the same since someone flew into that building on purpose.  It was a shock.

Throughout the morning, the Pentagon was then hit by another plane. And, then Flight 93 was crashed by brave passengers in Shanksville, Pennsylvania before another building could be hit. Our innocence disappeared that day.  Life has not been the same since.

This was such a sad day after my family had celebrated such a happy weekend when my niece was born.  We celebrated a new life not knowing that in just a few days, many lives would be ending.  I remember having a nightmare over that weekend.  So very strange.  My niece is now a lovely young woman. It is odd to think she has only known a life of post-9/11.

I took this photo during a high school chorus trip to New York City and to New Jersey.  We were in a park, I looked up and there were the Twin Towers.  It is a treasure to have a photo of them.  I remember the heartbreak and shock of seeing both of them fall.  I remember the smoke and people running.

After all of this happened, we were allowed to leave work and go home.  I went home to my house where my dad was waiting for a repair of something.  I don’t remember what it was.  We sat together for a while and watched the news unfolding since this was the only thing on.  I wept for all of the lives lost, I wept that our country seemed to be under attack.  After a while, I started to feel numb.  It was a terrible feeling.

There are older movies and television shows where the Twin Towers are prominently featured and you always can get a sense of the timing that happened.  Many things from the 1970s and 1980s panned across the skyline and there they were.  It is a sad and a constant reminder of what happened 17 years ago.

In addition to the towers, I remember the hole in the side of the Pentagon and how bizarre it looked.  A military building had been badly damaged and that seemed unfathomable before it happened.  And, I remember the crash site in Shanksville, PA and the debris from Flight 93 that was all over the place.

Each year, I remember the people whose lives changed forever. Those who lost loved ones, who never got to see their friend or family again, those who had no idea when they left for work that morning that they would never come home, and those heroes in all locations who helped either before or after the tragedies occurred.

I remember the words of comfort that President George W. Bush gave to the country as well as the call to action and to make sure this never happens again.  Sadly, we have seen entirely too much carnage, hate, death, and destruction since then.

The good thing is that we have also seen love, compassion, neighbors helping neighbors, fundraising, and support for each other, both those we know and those we don’t. My hope and prayer is that we can continue that and learn something from this.

May we never forget.  May we continue to honor those lost that day.  May we cherish each day and time with our loved ones.  May we never take a moment for granted.  And, may we please dear God never repeat this behavior.

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