I'll always remember where I was when Princess Diana died (on the boat with my parents and my high school BFF, Lauren), when Osama Bin Laden was killed (at home with Bob, watching disbelievingly from our bedroom) and, of course, when the attacks of September 11 happened...
I'm writing this because, eleven years later, my memory is fading slowly. And I don't want to forget. It's important to me to remember every detail because it's the worst thing I've ever seen happen...and hopefully ever will. And because, one day, when Claire is older, I want to be able to tell her everything that happened and my perspective on the day. I want her and my future children to understand the reverence of what happened that day and how it changed the landscape of America.
This recollection doesn't even begin to cover the emotions and heartache that were felt that day. I don't think I could ever do that justice.
I was a freshman at the University of Alabama. I attended my 8 am class - math, I think. The class ended early, and I went to the Ferguson Center to study. When I entered, a group of students were huddled around the information desk watching those old televisions that teachers rolled into the classroom on carts. I heard someone say something about a bomb. A bomb! I joined the gaggle of students and watched, in shock, as the third plane hit the Pentagon, finally realizing what was happening.
I went to my 9 am Italian 101 class, thinking it would surely be cancelled. But Signora Gabriella had not heard, did not understand why we were so anxious to leave. When the class ended, I ran back to my dorm and my roommate, Katie - whose birthday coincidentally is 9/11.
I remember watching the news all day...crying...running out for gasoline b/c her family was panicking...waiting in the gas line FOREVER, only to be told that the credit card machines were down. We scrounged up enough cash to get gas and went back to the news.
In the days that followed, we watched America pull together to stand behind a common cause. I don't know how you could NOT be proud to be an American at that time.
I had met Bob already, and though he had joined the ROTC, I had no idea what an impact these events would have on my life. It occurred to me in the days following that he would probably go to war. I had no idea we would be engaged at that time.
Five years later, he flew out of Ft. Bliss, Texas to Iraq to start what would be the longest 14 months of my life. Thankfully, he returned home to me happy and healthy, and we were married 4 months later. But he'll never forget the friends he lost along the way and the friends that were changed forever. All because of the attacks of September 11.
I know some people have a problem with all the "Never Forget" symbols flying around, b/c really, how could we forget? But I also think that as time marches on...our memories slowly fade. And as strange as it may be to some of us, there are children out there that have no idea what 9/11 is...they're too young to have been a part of it and it's up to us, their parents, to educate them. For me, this is the first step in educating Claire...documenting my "story."
I didn't know anyone in the Towers...or the Pentagon...or on Flight 93. Or their families. But I think we all feel part of the story of the September 11 attacks because it changed our lives in every way imaginable. And though we might forget the details of that particular day, we will never forget the lives that were lost, the lives that were changed and the lives that will never be the same.