"Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. The victims were in airplanes, or in their offices; secretaries, businessmen and women, military and federal workers; moms and dads, friends and neighbors... None of us will ever forget this day. Yet, we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world. "
-President George W. Bush: September 11, 2001
In the fall of 2001 I was working an odd shift in which I would go in at 11:00 am and work until 11:00 pm three days a week. On these days if I wanted to see my sons, I had to get up in the morning before they went to school. I would get up, see them off to school, and then l would stretch out on the couch and watch TV and nap until leaving for work.
Exactly seven years ago this minute I was watching The Today Show as American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center Tower 1, changing our lives.
Our parents speak of knowing what they were doing when they heard about John F Kennedy being assassinated. For our grandparents it was when Pearl Harbor was bombed. I can remember this day clearly in my mind. I do not talk about this moment much because it is too painful, and, it is my memory. It is a personal experience that cannot be shared with others.
I remember going to work that day. I took care of a woman in the Emergency Room who’s son was an American Airlines pilot. He was not flying that day but she developed chest pain just watching the footage on TV.
I remember my son in the days that followed being very anxious. He was eight years old at the time and smart for his age. He knew something was going on, he had seen the non-stop news coverage at home. He was having trouble sleeping. When we realized what was going on, we turned the news off when he was at home and I followed the story online. I felt that as nation we were losing our innocence, I did not want my children to have theirs robbed also by these monsters.
I remember the scenes of destruction, New York City, Washington DC, and Shanksville, PA. With horror, I remember watching the people in the World Trade Center leaping to their deaths in panic to escape the flames.
Mostly though, I remember the people. I remember the bravery of the rescuers in New York and Washington, some professional, some not, rushing towards the destruction to attempt to help those injured. I remember the families searching for loved ones, instinctively knowing that many of them would not find what they were looking for. I remember George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and Rudy Giuliani at their finest. These men did an incredible job leading a country through a horrific time. I remember the bravery and the sacrifice of the people of United Airlines Flight 93. Their commandeering of the airplane and diversion to a field in Pennsylvania likely saved hundreds of people.
Finally, I remember the anger at the bastards that did this. The hatred that dwells in some men’s hearts are not for us to understand. We, thank God, do not have the capacity for this lack of humanity. We are not capable of killing almost 3,000 innocent civilians. I remember this anger because it is still in me today. I have tried to make peace with what happened that day but cannot. I still cannot watch footage of the events of that day without feeling like a knife is plunging into my heart. I have yet to watch any of the movies. I think it is because I witnessed it live as it was happening instead of the detachment of seeing it on the news later. I don’t know but it is still there today. It effects how I view the Muslim religion and likely always will. I may have even forgiven the religion as whole if I had seen any remorse from the leaders of the religion. All we got though were some hollow sympathies, no real condemnation, no assistance in tracking down the perpetrators. I remember the Palestinians shooting their guns in the air at celebration of the news.
More than anything, I remember the innocent people that were lost on this day. 2,973 souls were lost in these attacks (I do not, nor will I ever, include the attackers in these numbers). Thousands upon thousands of family members lost their husbands and wives, their children and parents, grandchildren and grandparents, among others on this day. Several nations lost citizens. A nation lost it’s sense of security.
My fear, as we get farther from this day is that we are not remembering as a nation. On this day we were one nation. Since then, politics has raised it’s ugly head and divided some of us on the issue. People have gone back to their lives, children to raise, work to do, lives to live.
I just want the victims to know, I still remember and I know I am not the only one. They have not been forgotten and they never will. May they rest in peace.
September 11th, 2008, 0846 am