Some days are ordinary. Others are extraordinary, and life changing. And world changing. September 11, 2001 was extraordinary. But for me, it started out oh so ordinary. Kids in school, birds chirping in the trees. My ironing pile had stacked up, and I decided to tackle it. Amanda had a varsity volleyball game that night, and I was so, so excited for her. I still remember the butterflies. I was sipping my coffee, and on the phone with my best friend, Robin. I can still smell the aroma of coffee mixed with spray starch, hear the hiss of the iron as it hit the wrinkled shirt. I had the television tuned to the Today show, but the sound was down so Robin and I could chat.
We both knew something was up after that first plane, but we weren’t really concerned about it. It was probably a small plane that got off course or something. We chatted away, talking about our sons’ football games, Amanda’s upcoming volleyball game. My eyes were on my ironing, but I looked up briefly and saw the second plane hit the World Trade Center. Oh my God! Robin! Oh my God! My stomach heaved at what I just saw, and I wondered at that moment how many people just lost their lives? How many moms and dads weren’t going home to their families after work?
The terrible day progressed as the attacks mounted. The Pentagon. The towers falling in dark clouds of death. The President’s grim face as he addressed the nation. I called my sister in law in Pennsylvania, panic struck when I heard about the plane crashing there. We both cried on the phone together.
I was glued to the television the rest of the day. I panicked and wanted to just go get my kids out of school. To envelop them in love and keep them safe in our nest. I called my husband, who was on the road and begged him to come home. He wanted to but couldn’t; he was in Shreveport, which was locked down tight due to the President’s brief stay at Barksdale Air Force Base.
Later that day, we went to Amanda’s game. Singing the National Anthem put a lump in my throat and I could barely see as the tears threatened to flow. I looked at those students in the stands, and wondered what kind of world would they live in from this day on?
My daughter in law Sarah remembers the day this way:
“I can’t tell you much about that day personally. Anytime I am asked, I find myself wracking my brain trying to transport myself back to being 12 and naive about most everything in the world. I can’t for the life of me remember what class I was in, or how exactly how I found out. The only moments that I can recall are my mom picking me up early from school along with my 2 year old little brother. She did not talk much on that ride. At home, I remember witnessing my mom crying and stepdad pacing the floor as they watched the news coverage of planes crashing into buildings. I was left confused and completely unaware of the magnitude of devastation that our country had just endured. A day that changed our nation forever.
I remember from then on out everything was different. Teachers spoke more seriously, older kids were talking of joining the military, emotions were running high, and all focus shifted to this new feeling of uneasiness within our country. One thing I will always, always remember, though, is the amount of pure patriotism that emerged. Not only for our country, but for one another. The feeling of camaraderie was unmistakable. In my young mind, I too was “proud to be an American”. ”
My heart still breaks for the lives lost, for the kids who will never get their moms or dads back, for the heroes who truly sacrificed everything. A few years following the attacks, I had the privilege of visiting Ground Zero, before construction began on the new Freedom Tower. It was a gaping hole, and I was overwhelmed with the sheer size of the spot that once held the towers. Mementos and photographs were lovingly placed along the length of the chain link fence that was still there. I was struck by the fact that I was on hallowed ground. It felt like a holy place. I hope one day to visit that spot again, now rebuilt and dedicated to the heroes of 9/11.
God bless America, Never Forget.
John 15:13 King James Version (KJV)
13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.