I really won’t ever forget.
I was 23 and working at a top 40 radio station…B 93.7. I was young and pretty carefree. I drove a black convertible and lived in a cute little blue house that I had bought earlier that year. My family is close, I had good friends, and life was relatively smooth. I felt safe by myself and had taken enough kick-boxing classes to fill in the gaps of the unsafe feelings. Til that day…
I was sitting at my desk in the advertising/sales department writing up some client orders for commercials. The morning show was on in our office, but mostly we tuned them out and listened to make sure our commercials were running at the right times. Until they said something that caught everyone’s attention.
“A plane just flew into the World Trade Center.”
We all ran upstairs to the one TV in the entire radio station and gathered around while we tried to process the awful mistake. How a pilot could have lost control? Was the plane having mechanical problems? All those people….in the plane…in the building. Maybe the building might be ok…just a couple floors in really bad shape, right? So. Much. Smoke.
Then I saw with my own eyes…another plane come barreling straight into the other tower.
This was on purpose. Who could do this? So much hate…and of what? Our country? Innocent people who just got up to go to work that day…like any other day. Why would anyone do this? Are any of us safe anymore?
A building full of salespeople turned towards the ticker tape of the news radio station which was firing out new information before it was even coming up on the TV. Everyone in the building was huddled in the hallways outside of the studios…listening…weeping.
Then another plane…the Pentagon. And another one…in some field in Pennsylvania.
Would there be more? Fear struck everyone. And anger…and pride for this place that we live. Compassion for those people who were hurt. Hopefully everyone would get out and they could fix the buildings.
Then the unimaginable….stories high skyscrapers tumbling into a heap. Collapsing as if there were made of sticks and ash. Thousands of people unable to get out. All those people. All. Those. People.
I felt sick…and afraid. I didn’t sell a thing or even go see clients that day even though somehow we were supposed to “carry on.” I went home and curled up on my sofa and cried. I have a hard time “carrying on” in the face of tragedy. I wished I could help….but I was helpless hundreds of miles away.
And when I think back on that time, here’s what comes to mind about the way we all felt afterwards.
“Now this nation that I love is fallin’ under attack.
A mighty sucker-punch came flying in from somewhere in the back.
Soon as we could see clearly through our big black eye,
Man, we lit up your world like the fourth of July.
Hey, Uncle Sam put your name at the top of his list,
And the Statue of Liberty started shaking her fist.
And the eagle will fly and it’s gonna be hell,
When you hear Mother Freedom start ringing her bell.
And it’ll feel like the whole wide world is raining down on you.
Ah, brought to you, courtesy of the red, white and blue.” – lyrics by Toby Keith
Where did that feeling go? The one where political party didn’t matter, economic station in life didn’t matter, the little things didn’t matter? The one where we all cried together, held hands together, took pride in our country together? The one where we just wanted to make things right again…and help each other, and risk so much to make a difference? And 10 years later…while I’d never in a million years want to relive that day again…I miss the “United We Stand” stickers on everyone’s cars…and the feeling that we all meant it… that came after that awful day. And when we say “we will never forget”…I hope it’s not just about the events of a horrible day. I hope that what we don’t forget is the unity we found in the midst of all of our differences…and that even though parts of it seem to be forgotten, that we’ll find our way back there to be a group of united people in the United States of America.
Thanks to all the brave men and women who lost their lives fighting to save lives on September 11, 2001 and for weeks afterwards, may the grace and peace of the Lord rest on your shoulders instead of a heavy burden from that time. May you be blessed for your selflessness. To the families who lost…may the fullness of God restore and redeem in your life what the enemy set out to destroy. And to the men and women who are STILL fighting to ensure that our free country stays free….may the protection of the Creator of the Universe hover above you and give you continued strength and courage. Today in particular, I for one, want to honor all of you and the all of the lives who were lost as well.
I won’t ever forget. I really won’t ever forget.
**Where were you on that day? What were you doing, feeling?