Where were you on 9-11-2001?

When I was a little girl, I remember my mom telling me she remembered the exact moment – where she was, what she was doing – when she heard President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated.  I was 3 years old at the time so I don’t remember it, but I remember it was difficult for me to understand how someone could remember something like that with such clarity.

Fast forward to September 11, 2001, and suddenly it all made sense.

I had just arrived at work. I’d been listening to a cd in my car so I didn’t hear any of the news. A fellow employee got in the elevator with me and asked if I’d heard the news of a plane crashing into the #TwinTowers. I said, “No” and of course wanted info. Was it a small plane? Large plane? He didn’t know. He walked with me to my boss’ office, and after depositing my things at my desk, we turned on the t.v. in the small conference room near my cubicle. The other paralegals in the department wanted to know what was going on, so we sat around the conference table and watched the news. More people wandered in and leaned against the walls and windows. A few minutes later, the second plane hit.

Photo courtesy of New York City Police Department

The conference room filled with a collective gasp and then grew eerily quiet. We watched, mesmerized, as if caught in a surrealistic dream. It was if we were watching a movie, yet somehow we knew with dread the actors were real people, and this was a script none of them rehearsed.

We sat, stood, watched, all of us stunned and shocked. Tears fell. Hands covered mouths. Heads shook. Then we watched as a reporter with CNN who was on-site at the Pentagon shouted something like, “I don’t know what’s happened! There’s been an explosion!” He ran. The cameraman ran, then the reporting switched back to New York. We watched the pandemonium as the buildings fell and covered everything in ash.  Not long after that, we learned another plane had gone down in Pennsylvania, killing all on board.

We … and our nation were paralyzed with fear, disbelief, and that moment was etched in my brain forever. Needless to say, not much work was done that day and we all went home a bit early. I hugged my kids and wept. They cried, and even though my two sons weren’t quite old enough to understand the total implications, they knew a lot of innocent people died. As a parent, it was difficult to find the right words, words they would understand, but not frighten them. How does one explain this sort of terror to a child? More so, how do children living in war zones, cope? What do their parents tell them?

On this #911anniversary, there is no doubt the world has changed in the last 13 years. It is almost scary to turn on the news, to see what is happening around the globe. All we can do is pray our humanity strengthens us, binds us, and leads us to some semblance of world peace. In the meantime, hug your loved ones, spend quality time with your families, and as you leave for work or school, always leave your children, your spouse, your parents with three little words: “I love you”. We never know what tomorrow will bring or even what the next fifteen minutes hold in store. Try to make every moment the best it can be. Set aside differences, anger and try to remember we are all on this ride together. Let’s spend it laughing, not crying.

So, where were you on 9-11-2001?

Image in Public Domain