September 11, 2001. No doubt all of us (who are old enough) can remember exactly where we were and what we were doing that day.
I was at home with a 2-month-old baby. I was just going about my morning when my mom called me from her vacation. “Turn on the TV, we are being attacked or something!”
I turned on the TV just in time to see the plane go into the second tower. I held my tiny daughter and sank into the rocking chair. We didn’t know what was happening, but it was clear by the time the second plane hit that it was not an accident.
My husband (at the time, this was my first marriage) was working for a company that was next door to the nuclear power plant near Omaha Nebraska. They were in a complete lockdown, and I was unable to get hold of him. I remember jokingly saying “Thank God we are in Nebraska, there is nothing for them to bomb here!” Only to learn that the president’s doomsday bunker was at Offut Air Force Base; roads and highways closed all around us to secure his arrival.
The rest of the day was a blur. We saw people jumping to their death on live television, we saw the towers fall. We sat in long lines at the gas station, afraid that gas prices would skyrocket if the Middle East was involved. But we also saw something else that day.
Blood banks had lines around the block of people wanting to donate, thinking there would be thousands injured from the World Trade Center. Complete strangers gathered in front of televisions in the electronics department of stores and hugged each other as they wept. A sense of patriotism and the tenacity that America was founded on pulsated through the entire country.
Little did we know that the casualties would outnumber our wildest imaginations. That we would watch in horror as people jumped to their deaths on live television. When the towers crumbled before our eyes, it seemed like the world was ending. But in the middle of all the ash and horror, there was hope. People were proud to be Americans again. We took care of each other, even if it was only for a day.
Fourteen years later, it seems like that was a lifetime ago. People aren’t lining up to donate blood or much else for that matter. We pay tribute today, but will have forgotten by tomorrow. Let’s try to remember a little longer this year.