9-11-2001 Where were you?
Throughout history there have been significant events that are burned into the collective memory of the people who live through it. 9-11 is no different.
Where were you? I am certain you remember where you were when you first heard about the situation unfolding in New York. I was out of town at a conference, far from my family and away from home. My father called me to tell me that a plane had hit a tower at the World Trade Center. Like so many Americans, we had no idea that it was the first of a series of unimaginable horrors that we were going to witness that day. That news was terrible enough. I was riveted by the sight of the burning tower and horrified by the tragedy.
I turned on the news to watch while I dressed with no idea that the unthinkable had happened and more tragedy was to come.
As the news turned worse, and as we became aware of the nature of the attack, I, like so many, was shocked and stunned with disbelief. My mind could not comprehend and process what was happening before my eyes. Television made me feel the tragedy happening. It was, almost, as if I were there and present.
I was glad my family was safe but I felt a deep, unsettling fear. I was thousands of miles away from the center of the tragedy, yet I felt as if there was an immediate threat to me and my loved ones. It felt real, imminent and local.
I wanted to DO something. I was in the mountains of New Mexico and went to the local blood bank to donate. They did not need any blood, they were full. Still I felt the need to respond to the attack.
Many of you will recall the outpouring of patriotism that flowed from all Americans. American flags appeared over night, covering every surface. Cars, homes, businesses and schools flew flags. People wore flags and flag themed clothing. Sports teams, American workers, and public officials donned flags on their uniforms. Marching bands paid tribute to America. Flags appeared on paperwork and in advertising. Signs proclaimed our support and love for America. We were hurting as a country but we came together as one people.
The feeling of pride and love lasted for months. Flags were everywhere. I remember looking over the parking lot at work and seeing hundreds of cars decorated with flags. I personally wore a flag pin on my cloths for several years. I felt it was important to remember and to honor those who had died, those who might die, and those who serve. I am not sure when, but gradually I stopped wearing the pin. The magnetic flag that I had placed on my car feel off one day and I did not replace it.
Isn’t it strange how the human spirit reacts and heals and moves on? I know I am not alone. Though we feel the spirit when something significant happens, we eventually return to “normal.” Normal is different for everyone.
For me, I will promise to never forget. My flag pins are safely tucked away in my drawer but my pride in America is engraved on my heart.