Here we are nine years after the September 11th attacks, and I still haven’t put my experiences that day into words. Every year I try to write about it, but I always end walking away from the paper or computer screen because it’s so hard for me to capture the emotions I felt at the time.
I was really just a kid, living and working just north of D.C., and it was a day much like this one, with beautiful blue skies and weather that made you want to ride around with your windows open. My step-dad (a man who chose me as his daughter and I love like a father) was on an airplane at the time, and I was sitting in a meeting. Someone came in and told us about the first plane, and we were horrified but didn’t think it was much more than an accident. And then the second plane hit, and the meeting immediately ended as we all made our ways back to our offices.
I had a bazillion messages from Sean on my voicemail when I got back to my desk, and I couldn’t get a clear line to make a call out. Later I learned that my dad was sent to Andrews Air Force Base to help with security (where my grandparents lived just blocks from the front gate) and remembered we had friends and family working in the Pentagon. I had to make the 20-minute drive from my office to Sean’s office by myself, and it was one of the longest drives of my life.
At the end of the day, the people I loved were all safe, but I was still affected beyond words. The first time I heard Alan Jackson’s Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning), I had to pull off the road because I broke down. I was glued to the news for weeks and weeks afterwards, and even though I was already intensely patriotic before that day, I realized the depths of my love for this country.
My heart still breaks as I think about the unspeakable terror that the people in the Twin Towers and on each of the hijacked planes felt. I know I can’t fully understand the pain of those who did lose someone that day, but I think it is a loss that we all share in our own small way.
And although life does go on, and the world does keep turning, I didn’t want to post anything else today without first acknowledging the day. To those who lost someone on September 11th, I am so sorry for your loss and, today, we all remember. To the families who serve our country in the military, thank you. Thank you.