This week we have been watching some of the shows covering the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
For the 13 year old, who had only heard about this unbelievably tragic day in a history class and seen a video or two on YouTube, these more in-depth stories from a survivor or about one of the heroes have been eye-opening. But I don’t know how much you can understand about this day if you didn’t witness it.
I remember my mom called me to tell me that a plane had crashed into a building in New York. She had woken me from a sound sleep and I just didn’t know why she had done that to update me on a news story. Assuming it to be some terrible accident, I sat up in my bed and turned on the news. I’m talking to her and trying to listen to the news anchor as I see the smoke pouring out of the World Trade Center. And then I clearly see the 2nd plane crash into the 2nd tower.
We knew then that this was not an accident.
And the news did not get better. The Pentagon. The empty field.
The 24 hour restaurant where I worked, actually closed because we were so near to the Dallas World Trade Center, and no one knew what to expect. When or where or if another attack was coming.
And then the skies were cleared. It was eerily quiet.
Glued to my television set, as was everyone else in this country, I didn’t even realize there had not been one commercial interruption in news coverage until some 3 days later, when one finally aired. Over and over we watched the towers tumble. We listened to every word from Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw, and Dan Rather. We were shocked and stunned and so sad. And we somehow needed to hear every awful thing the news anchors could share with us. There was no discussion anywhere except the discussion of this terrorist attack on our country.
Perhaps being so far away from the terrible scenes of the day, here in Dallas, life began to move on a little sooner than those places where the events of 9/11 had unfolded and continued to surround its people. Still, the first time I saw a plane in the cloudless sky, it was mildly distressing.
Only 12 days after the attacks, I got on a plane myself and headed with a friend to the sunshine and sandy beaches of Cancun. Many thought us crazy. We felt that airline travel had never been more safe. The immediacy of changes made in airport security, of baggage checks and identity checks, was assuring. Escaping from the horrors of the previous two weeks was restoring.
It is curious to me how much of this day I clearly recall. Now, 20 years since the tragedies of 9/11, watching the reading of the names of all those lost on that terrible day, it does not escape me how much those more closely connected to it must remember. The mothers, the fathers, the siblings, the children, the besties. The lives of those lost and the lives of those who survived. All of the people to whom this day marks only the date of something and someone that they remember every day.
My heart breaks for those who lost their someone. For those whose lives were forever changed on that horrific day 20 years ago.
As we pause today in memoriam, my hope is that those affected can feel the love coming to them from across the country, and across the world, and that they may find comfort from that. Comfort in knowing that we too, will Never Forget.