Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where were you when...

I told myself I wasn't going to do a corny 9/11 tribute post because that's what everyone is doing and I have absolutely nothing to say that hasn't been said a million times before by someone way more eloquent than me.

I started Googling pictures and videos just to see what's out there and found myself sitting at my computer crying like a baby at all the memories they were bringing up. And I'm not talking about a few tears gently trickling down my cheek. I'm talking about the ugly cry with running snot and hiccups. What's up with that??!! I don't do that. I spend a fortune on prescription drugs to ensure that I don't do that.

I suppose every generation has their "Where were you when....?" moment. For my parents it was the JFK assassination. For me it's 9/11. Taylor's generation will likely have their own some day. Even with my severe memory problems (thank you narcolepsy), I remember the morning of September 11, 2001 like it was yesterday.

Taylor was in the 5th grade (I think). My morning routine was to drop her off at her elementary school then come home, take a shower, and do my housewife thing. I always had the TV on the Today Show in the mornings just for background noise, I rarely sat down and watched it. After the first tower was hit, they stopped their regular program and focused on the "breaking news" as they sometimes did. It caught my attention so I stopped puttering around the house and sat down for a few minutes to watch what was happening.

Like most people I thought wow, that really sucks. Some air traffic controller is totally going to lose their job or whoever made that airplane is going to be sued big time since it obviously malfunctioned. At that time I didn't realize the plane was a fully loaded jet. Even though the news people were saying it was a large plane, my mind kept picturing a twin engine Cessna with just a few people on it.

I've never been to New York and I've never seen the twin towers so the scale of the building just didn't register with me. I was aware that people inside probably died but again my mind was still trying to shrink everything down into a manageable size I could cope with.

I continued to watch and this is what I saw:

As soon as I saw that second plane hit, everything got a lot more clear. I realized these were not privately owned small planes, there were more than just a few people on board, this was no air traffic control problem or mechanical malfunction, and Elliott Walker isn't very bright. At that instant I knew something was terribly wrong even though I didn't know exactly what.

I called everyone in my family and told them to turn on the TV and watch what was happening. Reports of a crash at the Pentagon came in and then the first tower collapsed. I really think at that time everyone at NBC was pulling a Shannon and not really grasping what was happening. I know they're professionals and it's their job to remain calm and objective but it would have made me feel better to hear Katie Couric say, "holy shit!"

It wasn't until I saw this that I truly understood the magnitude of what was happening:

Tom Brokaw got it. When he said, "there has been a declaration of war by terrorists on the United States" I started to cry and continued to do so off and on for several weeks as I remained riveted to the television.

Like everyone else I went through all the emotions from shock and denial to acceptance, grief, and anger. I remember things in pictures and these are some of the images that I will never forget:

I feel bad for all the people who died that day...the victims, the bystanders, the rescue workers and even the hijackers who were so terribly misguided and brainwashed into believing they were doing the right thing.

I feel bad for everyone who lost a loved one that day.

I feel bad for the survivors who have had to deal with physical injuries as well as survivor's guilt and PTSD.

I feel bad for real muslims, the peaceful ones, who are now looked at with suspicion and fear.

I feel bad for our country's leaders who have been criticized for their post 9/11 actions. I don't know if they did the right thing or not, but I do believe that they had good intentions and they truly thought they were making the right decision. I know I wouldn't want to be in their shoes. Ever.

I feel glad for where I live and how I live and for all of the people, the military, law enforcement, rescue workers, and even the politicians who have provided this life for me. It's so easy to criticize what they've done wrong, but judging from the freedom I enjoy today, they've done a lot of things right and for that I am grateful.

No comments: