Twelve years ago today, our nation was rocked to its very core. We were both scared as well as horrified at the images we saw flashing before our eyes on television screens throughout the country. Some of us were unlucky enough to having to witness the disaster in person.
I was just 11 years old, but I remember sitting at my desk in my middle school geography class that morning. A student from a neighboring classroom ran in to tell my teacher to turn on the news. She was confused but she did so anyway. A plane had flown into a building in New York but I was confused and didn’t understand- my teacher’s hand went to her mouth as she very slowly took a seat in one of the nearby desks.
In what seemed like a matter of minutes the bell rang and I found myself in algebra. Again the news was on, this time accompanied by the volume. My teacher sat in the back of the room at her desk, staring at the television seemingly frozen by the images on the screen and clutched the remnants of a crumpled up tissue in her hand. Her eyes were rimmed with red and brimming with tears. Without warning, a second plane came into view, flew dangerously close to the second building, and then crashed into it. All at once I began to grasp the severity of what was happening. This was no mistake. This was deliberate. It wasn’t long after that another plane flew in to the Pentagon.
I spent my morning watching the plumes of smoke rising from both of the world trade centers, the fires licking at their walls until neither building could stand any longer. I remember the people sprinting through the streets- frantic and trying desperately to escape the fate that so many had already succumbed to. Once proud and well-put together business men were covered in dust and ash, their clothes in tatters and covered in soot. Nothing will ever erase the sheer terror I saw etched into their faces as they ran for their lives. Nothing will ever erase the countless interviews with those individuals desperately searching for their loved ones amid the chaos, or the countless candlelight vigils held for the missing as well as for those who didn’t make it out. We were heartbroken. We were terrified- and that was precisely the point.
Then something amazing happened- we came together. Politicians set aside differences and personal agendas and reached across aisles, red tape, and united under a single cause- the protection of our country and its citizens. Random acts of kindness were suddenly no longer random, and as a country we tapped into a deep reservoir of inner strength that we had long since forgotten we had. Stories began to circulate about the first responders, their bravery and heroic efforts to save others even at the cost of their own lives. The heroic acts of flight 93 came to light and the country fed off of the strength and determination embodied by those brave and selfless passengers who sought to regain control of their high jacked plane.
I’m afraid I must apologize on days such as today, words simply fail me. There is not enough eloquence in all the world to put pen to paper and write an article on the remembrance of those events that transpired on September 11, 2001 and what came after. Also, let us not forget the loss of life on this day one year ago, when the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi was attacked. As a nation we remain eternally grateful to all of our policemen and women, firefighters, EMT’s, and of course our military service men and women for their continued dedication to the safety and welfare of the citizens of this country.
It’s not that we will never forget, but rather that we can’t forget.