Ten years and two days ago…

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Yes, I realize it’s September 13th.  I have no thoughtful or meaningful reasons for doing this two days late, like “Oh, I’m extending the remembrance of Sept 11th because shouldn’t we always remember…yada yada yada…”  We just had a really busy weekend and I was glued to the television Sunday watching all of the services and ceremonies, while simultaneously finishing up some projects and well, I only have so many hands.  But I know that a few years from now, I’ll be clicking through my blog reflecting over old posts and I’ll think, “Why on earth didn’t I post anything on the tenth anniversary of September 11??”

So, read it or don’t… We all have our own recollections and I know I’m not of enough importance to warrant the time it takes to read something as long as this might be.  But for my own record of history, I wanted to take a minute to write and remember…

I made a few brief reflections on the attacks when Bin Laden was killed in May, but this past weekend I was trying so hard to remember what life was like back in September 2001.  I clearly remember sitting in the library during a recruiting pitch from Georgia Tech my senior year of high school.  Someone walked in and told us that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center.  I had never been to New York City and had no idea what the WTC was, so it didn’t immediately mean much to me.  The meeting was cancelled and I went back to class, where we stayed for the rest of the day.  As we watched the events unfold on a small TV hanging in the corner, it became clear what a terrible event this was and that it was going to change our country.  I remember that I felt like I should be crying, but I never did—at least not while I was at school.  Just like everyone else, I watched the news incessantly, night and day for the rest of the week.  I took it all in and thought it was awful.  I was moved and saddened and shocked.

But I was 18 and I wasn’t sure what else to do with that information.  I wasn’t a self-involved teenager who didn’t care about what was happening, but it felt so far removed from me and I just didn’t know what to do with the events.  The world was changing, but I was just beginning to learn what the world was—in a sense, I guess it didn’t change my world view, it shaped it.

Beyond that, when I remember 2001, I don’t remember grief and tragedy.  I was a senior in high school, I was applying to colleges, I was on the homecoming court and celebrating pep rallies. I had a great group of friends and we were together constantly, watching wrestling matches and basketball games, going on Young Life weekends, and planning our senior trip.  The best part of my life was just starting and I knew it.  But looking back, I think I feel a little guilty for having such fond memories of such a terrible time.

Ten years later, I have watched hours upon hours of the 9/11 specials.  National Geographic and History and ABC and NBC, the Bush interviews, and the documentaries, listening to the firefighters, the widows, the survivors tell their story…it rivals my obsession with the Royal Wedding earlier this year. But with this I just ached.  I have run out of tears.  I think some of it comes from making up for lost time—grieving for Americans in a way I didn’t then and didn’t know how to.  Another part comes from now being a wife and on the verge of having a family.  Still more from living in DC and loving this terrorist-target city.  I cannot fathom this city without the Capitol and simply can’t utter enough praise and thankfulness to the brave men and women on Flight 93.

Ten years later, September 11th was a Sunday.  The sky was bright blue and we woke up early to go to 9 o’clock church on Barrack’s Row.  In the car, we listened to the live coverage just beginning on XM radio.  Bagpipes were playing as we drove past the Pentagon, draped with an American flag.  A plane was simultaneously flying low overhead, heading to Reagan airport.  The Capitol building and the Washington monument clearly emerged from the low DC skyline.  And there were police everywhere, strategically blocking exits along the interstate.  And as we drove along taking in these sights and sounds, I cried imagining so many people who were making the identical trip that Tuesday morning, who watched that plane clip the light poles as it didn’t land at Reagan.  I cried thinking of the people on the plane whose last images were of the same skyline I was admiring.  I cried thinking of how it could easily have been me or Tyler, just a few years off in life’s timeline.

And with that, I have no eloquent way to wrap this up. That’s it.  If I waited to journal this, it would never get written.  So a blog it is…where I was then and now. To acknowledge the families of the heroes and the victims: I’m so sorry you suffered such travesty and grief.  We have not forgotten your loved ones and I pray that the peace that transcends all understanding has brought you comfort in this time.

We will never forget.

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