Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11, 2001

I was snoring in my dorm room when the phone woke me up. As soon as I saw Shaun's name on the caller ID, I groaned, debated throwing the phone at the wall, and answered, fully expecting to yell at him for waking me up early even though he knew full well I had an hour left to sleep.

The first words out of his mouth were, "Wake up, we're under terrorist attack."

To which I responded, "SHUT UP. Not funny! I have another hour--"

He cut me off and told me to turn my TV on.

I remember staring at the screen, my stomach churning and wondering what kind of joke this was. What I was seeing couldn't be real.

But it was.

And it kept getting worse. I saw the live feed as the second plane hit. I watched as the towers fell. First one, then the other.

I remember losing the connection to Shaun on the phone and panicking when news of the Pentagon was broadcast, knowing he was just across the river at Bolling AFB.

I couldn't dial numbers on my phone because my hands were shaking so much.

The phone rang and I jumped. It was Shaun. He was fine, but he could see the damage across the water. Shaken, I asked if he would be safe.

"I hope so."

Not exactly comforting.

He promised to check in periodically and get to me as soon as he could.

I called my dad and heard his voice crack and choke as we listened to the news reporter speculate on the number of firefighters still in the buildings as they collapsed. His brothers-in-arms. He was a firefighter too.

I didn't cry before then. But hearing my dad break was enough to tear through my numbness.

I watched the city become engulfed in smoke.

I turned the TV off, horrified. Three seconds later, I turned it back on. Couldn't look away.

Eventually, I ventured outside to the courtyard, meeting friends who looked as shaken as I felt. We huddled in groups, talking over the morning's events. We discussed things we could do to help. We wondered if we should pack up and head to NYC.  What could we do?  We felt helpless.  We felt scared.  We felt numb.  We felt impassioned. 

I remember the eerie stillness of a sky devoid of planes.

We all donned our best Americana gear, hoping to convey in our small way, support for a nation grieving.

No one thought of class. No one cared. For once though, no one was celebrating the vacation.

It brought us all together. Within days, benefits were organized, blood drives were put together, people were raising funds. It didn't matter if you were Democrat, Republican, whatever... everyone was united to support our Nation.

The way it should always be.

It's just a shame such a great price had to be paid for that.

I remember feeling like my little bubble of a world was suddenly unsafe. Every plane that would eventually fly overhead made me cringe.

I was terrified to fly. I still am, most times.

I was scared every day of turning on the news to hear of some other great atrocity. Because we weren't immune to them any longer.

Because terrorists managed to break through our impenetrable exterior and strike us at the heart.

And strike they did.  They struck fear into our hearts.  Then anger.  Then determination.  

We were determined not to let this divide our country.  Red and blue, we united together to cry out for our nation. 

We were Americans.  We ARE Americans. 

And we won't forget. 

6 comments:

  1. and again you made me sniffle with this...

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  2. You definitely brought tears to my eyes. I also remember this day because of Shaun. I was at my parents house and I hear my mom holler at me and was crying. Shaun had also just called her to say what was happening. We also immediately went to the TV and started crying, praying, worrying, anything we could do. My mom also lost him in the middle of conversation because of the pentagon and of course that sent worry through our mind. It was so hard to be so far away and not feel like there was anything you could do. I also remember the strength that was brought by oneness as a nation and with God. Why do we forget so easily something that we say we will never forget.

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  3. you are pretty much one of my favorite writers to read ever - thanks for sharing, and for all your wonderful blogging. love you.

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  4. Oh the tears...thanks for this good reminder of what that day felt like...trying to stop tearing up now :-)

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  5. wow. i just stopped over...i randomly clicked on your profile from snick's blog. this was an amazing tribute.

    i too was in college that day, right near the pentagon (20 minutes or so away). although, i was in class when it happened, and when i turned on the tv, both towers were gone and the pentagon had already been hit. it was a moment that i'll never forget, and changed my comfortableness with living in the area and my parents happiness of where i was going to school.

    it is amazing how one act can change everything.

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