Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11/01-9/11/11 Ten Years Later -- Never Forget

It was a beautiful California morning, I woke up about 8 am, oblivious to what had been happening 3000 miles away in the state I had left a mere 3 1/2 months before. I was married 4 days before and very happily in the honeymoon phase.  My husband and I were renting a room from a wonderful woman that is now a dear friend.  She was crying and I wasn't sure what had happened.  I asked her what happened, if there was anything that she needed, anything I could do.  She then filled me in on everything that was happening in our country.  She told me that airplanes had run into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and one had crashed in Pennsylvania.  I have to admit that it took what seemed like a minute or two to digest what I was being told.  Tears welled up in my eyes. I stood there in disbelief, disbelief that this could happen to US, to our people, on our soil.  Disbelief that some people could be so hateful, so evil, that they would take so many innocent lives.  I had dated a man that lived in New York City. I stood on the observation deck of one of those Towers in October of 98.  It was a magnificent view, you could see for miles upon miles, at every angle.  To this day, it stuns me at how quickly they crumbled to the ground. 

I wondered what would be next, if there was anywhere safe to be.  I lived much closer to a big city than I had in a long time.  I was living within a few miles of Sacramento, the capitol of California.  How safe could I be?  This was my next thought.  My husband was taking a Political Science class at a local college.  It started about an hour after we woke up.  I had him call his school to find out if there were still going to be classes.  To my surprise, he did still have class.  So, I kissed him goodbye and he headed off.

I turned on the radio, we didn't have television service.  In fact, I didn't see any footage until 2 days later, when I went to the gym.  Until then, the news I got was from the radio.  I heard the audio footage of people screaming and running.  I heard them telling us that all planes were grounded because we didn't know how many had been or would be hijacked.  I heard people sobbing, wondering where and how missing family members were.  I heard about local blood drives, emergency blood drives, to get blood to people that were going to need it.  This was something I could do, to help from thousands of miles away.  I had donated blood in the past, I wanted to do something, and this is what I could do.  I heard a location on a street that I knew, so I headed there.  The line was backed up, it would be a few hours before I could donate, if it would be that day at all.  I made an appointment to come back the next day.

My parents and my sister were still traveling home from my wedding.  They had a cell phone.  I had tried to get in contact with them for hours.  If anyone remembers, cell service didn't work very well that day.  I can understand why, everyone trying to make sure their loved ones were accounted for.  When I finally got through, they were really close to Chicago, IL.  When my parents travel, they don't listen to the radio.  They talk and enjoy the scenery and the drive.  Sometimes the radio will come on, but it is usually later in the day, but it hadn't been on at all that day.  I told them what was going on.  I could hear the disbelief and shock in the voices as Mom told my dad and sister.  We hung up and they continued their drive.  The next day when they had to return their rental car, it wasn't an easy task.  Since they had rented it from an airport and the airports were closed.  I guess that it took a while to figure out what they should do with this car.  It did get taken care of.

When I finally saw television footage of the events, there were things on the TV that I would have never imagined.  People jumping from buildings, dust clouds chasing people as they were running away from the falling buildings, bloody people helping other bloody people.  So many images, so many terrible images, that had to be shown.  I don't know that there would be any other way to report such a horrific event.  We need to remember that day, we need to remember how much we love our country.  All the flags that were waving in our front yards, the flags we bought and hung from our car windows, the t-shirts we bought with flags on them.  The comraderie we felt as a nation.  The togetherness, neighbor helping neighbor, neighbor speaking to neighbor, there was genuine love between people...regardless of political view, religious background, race.

Ten years later... I am still married to that husband.  The honeymoon phase is over, reality has set in as far as that goes.  We are expecting baby number four.  Life is good, but like everyone else's it is not perfect.  We drove home from work on Friday.  It would be the last day of the weekday talk radio.  My husband enjoys talk radio.  He listens to Rod Arquette after work on his way home.  Friday he was remember 9/11.  I listened, tears rolling down my face... I hid it from my husband.  I'm not sure why I didn't want him to know I was crying.  As a mother now, hearing the terrible sounds of people crying out for their loved ones, people in so much pain, hearing the reports of the Towers being hit, falling down, absolutely broke my heart.  Perhaps as a mother, I was understanding the pain of all the mothers that lost children they loved more than life that day.  Perhaps as a wife, understanding how she woke up and kissed her husband goodbye, knowing fully well that he would be home that evening, and he would never again walk through their door.  The tears flowed, like they never had before, remembering that day.

This morning I woke up, I made pancakes (plain and banana) for my family.  I told my children about the events of ten years ago.  I turned on the television to see some of the coverage.  I listened to names being read.  The names of peoples' loved ones, mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, best friends.  I heard a mother talk about her son.  I didn't catch the whole thing, but I know how very proud she is of him, how much he is missed and how much he is loved.

We must remember the troops, the many men and women, who signed up to serve our country.  The people that have signed up before 9/11/01 and those that have signed up after.  The troops who have given their lives to protect our freedom.  We must support those men and women. 

We must remember the firefighters, police officers, and other first responders, that went running into the buildings that day while others were running out.  The ones that died doing what they believe in, trying to save the lives of others.  We must remember the men and women that survived that day.

If anything, I would imagine that all the people that died that day, and the ones that have died fighting the battles of that day,  would want us to love each other.  Treat each other like we did those days, weeks and months after 9/11.  They would want us to be a charitable nation.  They would want us to raise each other up, instead of pushing each other down.  They would want us to focus on service, being selfless, instead of being selfish.  Let's remember the people on the flight that went down in Pennsylvania, they acted selflessly, knowing that their plane was probably going to take the lives of other innocent victims, took control and ran into the ground instead of another building. 

Let's remember that we have our lives today, we don't know what will come tomorrow.  Let's try to smile at someone that may need a smile in their lives.  Let's be a friend to someone who could use a friend.  Let's just remember that life is unpredictable and treat people like it may be the last time we may ever see them... and hope and pray it isn't.

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