Remembering 9-11

Like most Americans (and many non-Americans around the world), September 11th is a day that you’ll always remember as if it occured only yesterday. On that day, I finally understood the stories of my grandparents about major events that had happened in their lives and that had transformed America. If you were alive on September 11, 2010, it is a day you’ll never forget. You’ll always remember where you were, who you were with, and the emotions that you felt as hours passed.

I was sleeping at the time the first tower was struck. My friend, who was a teacher, called me to tell me the news. I didn’t answer the call.

Minutes later, another friend called. This time, I did answer the call because I knew that if she was calling, something serious must be going on. I was groggy when I picked up the phone to her frantic questioning, “Are you watching tv?” “Do you know what’s happened?”

I did not.

So, I quickly jumped up from bed and turned on the television. It was perched atop a shoe rack because I’d just recently moved in and didn’t have all my furniture. I stood about 3 feet in front of it, just watching… confused, concerned, and unsure what exactly was going on. I tuned in just a few minutes before the second tower was hit.

I went across the courtyard where a group of us huddled into my friend’s bedroom for the rest of the day, glued to the television, watching the events unfold, watching the towers collapse. Admittedly, I didn’t understand what was going on entirely. It took a little while for everything to set in. As the sun set on September 11th, 2001, I went to bed knowing that life as I’d known would never again be the same. I had just watched America change. The question is… what would we do with that change?

I was ignorant, really… I couldn’t comprehend terrorism like this. The pieces just didn’t fit together in my head. And now that this had occured, I had to figure out what it meant and how to make sense of it.

It was the better part of a week that I sat glued to the television set and read every newspaper headline. One day, I got up and said, “It’s time to move forward.” I wasn’t forgetting what had happened. I wasn’t any less sad for the senseless loss of thousands of Americans. I wasn’t any less ANGRY. But I remember saying to myself, “If we sit here and do nothing, ‘they’ win”.

The question that begged back then and still begs, 9 years later, is “What’s Next?” “Where do we go from here?”

A few years ago, I went down to ground zero. We walked through the memorial and everything came rushing back as if I were standing in front of that television set just 6 years earlier. How could any American NOT get angry at the enemy when they stood just steps away from where this American tragedy happened? How could an American not feel sadness and sorrow for the innocent people that lost their lives?

In fact, I was watching the services today. During the reading of all the people that lost their lives, the camera panned to 2 women. I’m guessing that one was the wife and the other the mother. When the boy read the name of the son/husband, the mother began to cry and the wife bent down to comfort her. It brought tears to my own eyes. Yet, every day, they find the courage to get up and live, to fight for their dreams and to not allow their loved ones lives to be taken in vain.

So today, I have two requests.

1. Remember where you were 9 years ago. Who were you with? What did you feel? and how did it change you? Share your stories and keep the memory of those lost alive and well.

2. Don’t let thousands of Americans die for nothing. Get out there and show the rest of the world that we get back up and that the American Dream is alive and well. Find your dream again (if you’ve let it fade away) and go after it. Don’t let ANYONE take it away from you.

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