Like most Americans, I remember 9/11 well. I had taken my children to the doctor that morning. When I arrived home, there were eight messages on the answering machine. We hadn’t been gone that long. Something was very wrong.
“Anna,” said the first voice, “I know you don’t have the television or radio on during the day. I wanted to make sure you knew. A plane flew into the World Trade Center.”
Another message and another, with bits and pieces of information, kept coming. Horror at the magnitude of the attacks and at innocent Americans like myself being killed flooded my heart. Sadly, though, I felt little surprise. I had long suspected we would not forever be spared such attacks on our own soil. Still the magnitude and the grief…
I called one of my friends, the one who was always most diligent in making sure I knew urgent news since I rarely had the television on. She said her first thought was bin Laden. We shared our deep sorrow over the lives lost. People all over were leaving work and their homes and rushing to schools to pick up their children if possible. Fortunately, my children were with me. I was very glad of that. I was also thankful that my husband’s trans-Atlantic flight to the west coast had been the day before but saddened for all those who were at the wrong place at the wrong time. How many lives were lost and how many hearts were broken that day.
Though he was safe, I wished my husband were with us. His presence would have been comforting. Yet other men and women would never have the pleasure of their spouse's company again. How awful.
Next I put the news on. No one knew anything. Newscasters supposed this and that and showed the clips again and again of the planes flying into the World Trade Center. My children were terrified. They wanted answers, but I had none. Neither did the reporters. I decided to turn the television off and get them busy with something else. I knew I would have to keep up with the information, but I decided that one hour of news a night would give me as many answers as I would get from listening all day.
9/11 was my mother’s birthday. We had had plans to meet for dinner. Surely she would want to cancel that. Who wanted to go out? Would any place even be open? Were the attacks ended and was it safe to go to public places yet?
She still wanted to go. I had to drive quite a distance to meet my mom, and we had to try a couple places, but we found one open for business. Unsurprisingly, there were not many patrons that evening. The television was on in the restaurant. Scenes of people from certain Middle Eastern countries dancing in the streets and cheering the news of the death of almost 3000 Americans flashed across the screen. Europe, however, liked us, at least for the moment.
I couldn’t sleep that night or much of the next week. I had nightmares of my fellow citizens being attacked. I wept for people I didn’t even know. My heart resonated with that of the young man in New York City who expressed his anger on camera that terrorists had attacked his city and his people. I still remember his face and his emotion so clearly. And he was right. We were all Americans. We were all attacked that day. I don’t know if he did enlist or not, but I was so glad brave young men like he lived in our great land. Oddly, even the criminal minds seemed to be shocked as the crime level dropped for several days after the attacks.
Since 9/11, it is clear that there are people in this world who want us dead just because we’re Americans. Since 9/11 it is obvious that the attacks can occur here, on our soil. Since 9/11 it is evident that we can’t do anything to reason with people who will murder innocent civilians without cause and on purpose. We can’t make them like us. We must be vigilant. Thankfully our intelligence has averted several attacks on our land over the last five years. Yet I know that they need to be right every time while terrorists need be right only once to destroy some of us.
While we should continue to live our lives without fear, on this fifth anniversary of 9/11, we should look back and remember the day that our safety was shattered and honor those who lost their lives while going about their daily business of providing and caring for their families. They deserve our respect. They deserve to be remembered.
Other remembrances can be found here at Rocks in myDryer....and here at Blogging Chicks.