Never again will any of us hear the three simple numbers, '911', and not be instantly transported back to that fateful morn, five years ago, when the innocence of our country, and dare I say most of the world, was shattered irrevocably.
When I was a child, it was the assassination of President Kennedy that was the pivotal event of our parents generation. The one question that when asked 'Where were you then?' stirred immediate memories not only of physically what you were doing at that moment in time, but also a substantial shifting into spaces of 'before' and 'after' with so many things changing, hinged all upon that one moment in time.
I was in my room, getting ready for work and watching the Today show when the first plane hit. It came so quickly too – after a commercial break, Katie and Matt were on reporting the Breaking News of how a plane had just hit the World Trade Centers. Husband remarked about how odd that was, and we had a lively discussion over why Jumbo Jets were allowed to fly in Manhattan. At this point, there was no alarm, no danger. No pressed voices, just a very strange sense of curiosity of something that you couldn’t quite place.
It was when the second plane hit – while Katie was interviewing an eyewitness – that something perceptibly shifted. A sense of purpose, perhaps. A dawning, unbelievable realization that it could have been intentional. Even then, minds scrambled to get themselves around it. I’m not sure it even sunk in that day, but I, like the rest of you, sat transfixed in thick, grey horror watching the morning unfold and waiting impossibly for some semblance of sanity to end it all.
I arrived at work, the mood heavy with trepidation and pause. We crowded around one monitor, watching CNN updates. Waiting. Someone brought in a radio and we listened as event after catastrophic event unfolded. Flight 11 confirmed to have hit the North tower. Flight 175 hits the South Tower. Flight 77 has gone missing. All flights are grounded until further notice. The first tower falls. Flight 77 hits the pentagon. The second tower falls. Flight 93 is reported hijacked. Flight 92 crashes in a lone field. Chaos becomes the order of the morning. Fear and uncertainties with many of us filing for vacation days and leaving as Springfield, Capitol City, is now on high alert.
I work two blocks from the state Capitol. And I am now quite afraid.
It’s an eerie, silent and nervous drive home. I turn the TV on and watch alternating images of the towers falling, plane wreckage and everywhere, the dumbfounded, devastated looks of horror and betrayal. I am not alone in knowing these are images I will live with the rest of my life. I am grateful that they are only images.
And although I am normally very outspoken as regards to the Patriot Act and compromising our Civil Rights in the name of security – no. Not on this day.
For this day should be for those who fell. That the memory of their dying will not have been in vain, may this be a day free from the controversy of conspiracy, what the government knew or did not know. Why President Bush sat for so long reading childrens books and how he could have watched that first plane hit as he noted that morning. Whether it was Al Queda, our own government or any combination thereof responsible for such an appaling atrocity. No, this day is not for that.
This day is for everyone that fell on 9/11. This day is for their memory, and for their families and loved ones. And our own. For cherishing and offering up extreme gratitude, if we are fortunate to still have them with us. No, this is a day for the heroes.
Of whom there are many, and more than we will ever, ever know.