Ten Years Ago TomorrowGrowing up, I remember hearing my parents discuss "where they were when" certain events happened - when Kennedy was shot, when Princess Diana married Prince Charles, when the Challenger exploded. I remember feeling so disconnected from them having not been a part of the same emotions that obviously left such an impression on their lives. As a child, I was still too naive and innocent to have been affected in that way by anything.
It wasn't until high school that I came to understand the fear, the emotion, the grief that accompanies tragedy. A well-liked boy on the football team was diagnosed suddenly with Leukemia and just as suddenly taken from those who loved him. He was the first person I knew that had died - besides elder family members I had distant memories of. I didn't know him well, but the fact that I had held conversations with him and walked along side him at school left an eerie absence in the hallways after he was gone. His wake and funeral was the first I attended as an "adult". I could barely glance in his open casket - the unspoken "why"s and heartache swallowed my heart, breaking it into a million pieces. I remember feeling embarrassed at how emotional I got, wondering if people would look my way and think I was overreacting, whisper "She doesn't even really know him. Not like I did".
On September 11, 2001 I had returned from my early morning college classes to my upstairs apartment in Louisville, KY that I shared with two of my girlfriends. The TV was on, but likely not the news. Probably MTV or VH1. I had to print a paper for my afternoon class so I sat down at our computer, logged on to the internet. On MSN.com, there was an image of a building, a plane and smoke. I scanned over it, thinking it was an advertisement for the latest video game or action movie. And suddenly, the image was thrust into reality with a phone call. "Turn on the news - oh my God".
For the next several hours, my roommates and I alternated between pacing the floor calling loved ones, sitting motionless on the couch watching the drama unfold and swapping stories and theories laced with shock and fear. Pure confusion. Then fear. Then shock at the realization that we had just witnessed thousands of people lose their lives. I remember thinking how strange it was to be so far away from what was happening in NYC, but yet feeling so completely unsafe. War...terrorism...America under attack - I just wanted to be with my family. The emotions shook me to my core.
It didn't matter that I didn't personally know anybody who perished in the World Trade Center or on the planes. It didn't matter that I was hundreds of miles away. None of that mattered. Everybody was affected. Changed.
As the stories poured in, flooding the news the weeks after 9/11/01, I couldn't help but read every one, watch every piece. I spent hours on one website that listed every single person who died that day. I read their names out loud and grieved each life lost, prayed for their family and friends who now led very different lives.
Earlier this afternoon, I watched my kids run through the warm Texas sun and shivered at the thought of one day having to explain to them what happened on that fateful September day. They will most likely have memories of adults sharing "where we were" stories, and no doubt feel the same disconnect that I felt with my parents as they discussed the historical moments that impacted their early adult lives. I wish that Ethan and Aiden would never have to experience such tragedy firsthand, however I know this is unrealistic. So instead I pray that they will have the strength and courage to be able to process life's challenges and grow from them.
Tomorrow, I will be praying for all of America. I will continue to be thankful for the servicemen and women who put their lives on the line each and every day to protect the freedom that we so greatly enjoy. I will stand proud.
I will remember.