Sep 10, 2010
When I reflect back on that morning, I remember watching the smoke and flames pour out of the first tower. I remember the horror growing as the second plane careened into the other tower. I felt the shock when the towers fell to the ground. It was unimaginable to me that a tragedy with that magnitude could be happening. I was pregnant with my first child. Things were supposed to be happy, and all I could do was cry. I tried to block it out. I didn’t want to think about it. But I had to. My husband came home from class early that day -- his ROTC commanders had ordered all cadets to change out of their uniforms for fear of other attacks. No one knew who was behind the attacks, or what other targets would be hit.
By the time the events of 9/11 were over, two planes had crashed into the Towers, both Towers had collapsed, a third plane had hit the Pentagon, and a fourth crashed in Pennsylvania after passengers fought back against the hijackers. A third building at the World Trade Center complex would also collapse later in the day due to damage sustained during the initial crashes and collapses of WTC 1 and 2. It took months to sift through the debris, and after the initial collapses, very few people were successfully rescued. The destruction was terrible.
In the years since, this country has seen a return to patriotism. If one can find good in the events of 9/11, I would say the events gave the nation a common interest. Suddenly, blood banks had volunteers lining up to give, everyone was a little more willing to help out their neighbors. But with the events also came a cloud of suspicion. Our airports have gotten pickier and pickier about what is or is not allowed. Unattended baggage is seen as a threat. Ideas that are different are seen as bad. September 11 changed my generation forever. We no longer feel detached from world events. Before 9/11 our greatest tragedies had been perpetrated by mechanical failures, nature, or our own countrymen. This was the first event in my lifetime, and since Pearl Harbor in 1945 that an attack of this magnitude had been carried out on our home soil.
As much as this country has changed in nine years, part of me wants to remember the way it was. I can remember that innocence is a characteristic to foster in children, for they will have to grow up far to soon. I can remember that my neighbors are there to help me when I need. I can remember that no matter what, family and friends are the most important thing in life. Some of these things I would have learned without 9/11, but without 9/11, the learning would not have had as much meaning.