I’m not a very nostalgic person. I’m not that into holiday memorials, or special days; I am doing well to remember my wedding anniversary every year (thank God!). I’m also blissfully unaware of dates with historic significance; the idea of trying to remember the first year we celebrated, say, Mother’s Day, or Independence Day, or Magna Carta Day (if there even is one) just don’t matter to me. Even the days that are supposed to be of deep personal significance like “the twin’s first Christmas” or “their first Halloween” are pretty fuzzy to me. But I will always remember where I was on 9/11.
I was at work, and it was a Tuesday, so I’m told (no, Tuesdays don’t usually resonate with me either). However, I remember the rest of it. I was at the office, and I think I first heard something was up when I hit a news website on my PC that morning and saw a blurb about a building being hit somewhere on the east coast. I walked up to the front of the office to make a copy , and when I stepped into the lobby I saw the receptionist trying to set up a TV set, and she had a worried, disturbed look on her face. The TV screen was about 80% snow, but the audio was clear: one of the World Trade Center buildings in New York City had been hit. Through the snow on the screen I could see smoke starting to come out of the side of that building. She and I stood there, not talking, and I could feel my heart sinking. I don’t think I realized it at the time, but in that moment I could sense a change in the air and in the voices on the TV. We stood there for close to an hour, watching as smoke arose, people died, and buildings fell.
While this was certainly not the first terrorist attack on our nation, it was the most covered and recognizable one. I have heard historians say that it may very well be the event that defines our generation, comparing it to the December 7th, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. I think that is a fair assessment: our 9/11 was a game changing day for the USA. It marked the beginning or renewal of public awareness of Muslins, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, jihad, Osama bin Laden, Iraq, Afghanistan… it served as an eye-opening experience for the United States and our allies. It was a day of horrible tragedy and magnificent heroism. It was the day the world changed for my generation.
This weekend we will observe the tenth anniversary of this horrific day. Please take some time to remember those who fell, those who rescued or were rescued, those who served or continue to serve, and say a prayer for us all. Certainly we need it. And God bless the USA.