Never Forget September 11

Never Forget, September 11

I can’t believe it has been 15 years since the attacks of September 11 happened. I remember that day clearly.

september 11

It was 8th grade, and I woke up earlier than most of my friends do to go to the elementary school my mom worked at to volunteer for two hours. There was a bus that stopped at the school to pick my sister, me, and a few others up to go to middle school.

By the time the first plane hit, we had just gotten on the bus and were clueless. It wasn’t until we picked up the other kids at the last bus stop that one of them was talking about a plane that hit a building in New York. We didn’t think too much of it. After all, we were on the bus and not hearing anything else about it. It sounded just like a plane crash, which, while tragic, doesn’t even begin to describe the feelings of that day, or the impact it would have on us for years to come.

So we get to school, and still hadn’t heard much, but there was a somber feel to the air. You could see it in all the teacher’s and staff’s faces. They tried to put on a brave front for us. When I got in my first class, the teacher turned the tv on and let us watch the news. Nothing happened at school that day, at least not in my classes. All tests were postponed, no worksheets were done, no reading of textbooks, no lessons, and no homework. Students, friends, were being pulled out of school all day. My sister and I stayed in school, our parents didn’t pull us out early, but my mom was busy teaching her own class room full of 4th graders, and my dad was at work as well.

And honestly, I don’t know what good going home would have done, other than to just hold your family tight on such a devastating day. Now that I’m a mom, I get that. I get wanting to make sure your babies are with you when it feels like the world has stopped turning. But at the same time, my parents had a responsibility of their own to help keep everything going at their workplaces. So we watched the news the first half of the day.

I didn’t watch live when the second plane hit either, as I was just getting off the bus at school. What I do remember watching was the towers collapsing, and wondering how a plane could cause that much devastation. I remember thinking about how my mom often flew places with Creative Memories, to incentive trips and conventions and meetings, all over the country. How easy it could have been for her to be on one of those planes.

Then we heard about the Pentagon, and I remember that my great-uncle worked somewhere near the Pentagon. I didn’t know how close, but just that it was somewhere near there. We were worried for him, until we finally heard later that he was ok. You have to remember, this was a time before social media. We didn’t have facebook and twitter and instagram and all those other means of communication. We had to pay for text messages at that time. It wasn’t so easy to find out that someone was alive and ok. We had to rely on landlines, and the people who had cell phones weren’t getting great reception because the cell towers were so bogged down with callers.

And there was plane that went down in Pennsylvania. So many lives lost on that one day with so much tragedy. So many people who, even though they survived, lost loved ones, husbands, wives, moms and dads, children, friends…. the list goes on. All our brave men and women first responders who went into those buildings to try to save people, who never came out. I didn’t personally know anyone in the military at that time, but I can only imagine what was going through their minds…. is this war? Has a war been brought to our homeland? Or is this the start of a new war? Where are we going? Who did this? When (not if, when) am I going to be sent somewhere, away from my family?

That afternoon, at school, we had an announcement from our school principal. Usually we had afternoon announcements with things going on that day after school for clubs and sports, maybe about an upcoming school event, the lunch menu for tomorrow, I don’t even remember what. I do remember the announcement that all after school activities had been cancelled, everyone was urged to go straight home. This was from our principal, not the secretary who usually did the announcements. And while I don’t remember the exact words, I remember his speech about how it was a tragic day for our country, and a scary day for everyone with not knowing what this means or who did it or what will come next. He continued by saying that tomorrow will resume classes as normal, as we try to get back to some kind of normalcy in our lives.

I remember him mentioning that safety and security is a top priority at the school, and he and the teachers and staff would do everything in their power to try to make sure we are all safe while at school. I remember at the time we were all laughing about how he thought that a few teachers could keep us safe, or how a middle school in the middle of Southwest Florida would never be a target and it seemed silly for him to even mention it. But now, I get it. He was not only reassuring the students, but also his staff, and himself. Reminding everyone that even though there isn’t always a lot we can do, a feeling of safety is important.

As a nation, I think we were dumbfounded by what happened. How did this happen? Why? Who would do this? So many questions, so few answers. It was all over tv. You couldn’t turn on a tv or radio without hearing about it. The footage was played over and over again. Stories were starting to emerge of survivors who were in the buildings and got out, what they heard, what they saw, what they felt, and what they will never, ever, forget.

Out of all the tragedy, though, a new sense of patriotism emerged. Our country seemed the most united it had been in a long time, at least more than I had ever seen before. Everywhere you looked people were putting out flags, wearing red, white, and blue, helping others, and just coming together as one people. As one country. One nation under God, indivisible. We seemed to truly be living up to our Pledge of Allegiance.

Of course, over time, like everything else, that feeling faded. This year marks 15 years since that day. The day the world stopped turning. A day I will never forget. And what’s crazier is to realize that incoming Freshman in high school will learn about it as an event in history. They weren’t alive when that happened. They won’t ever understand the feeling. My youngest cousin is a sophomore this year, and he was only a couple months old when it happened, so even though he was alive, he will never have the feeling about it that we have. Then I realize that this is how older generations feel about my generation, having never lived through some of the wars, or presidential shootings, or other major events in our nation’s history.

I read a post on facebook from a friend saying that her dad was supposed to be on flight 77, the one that went down in PA. Something didn’t feel right, and he left the airport. They spent the entire day thinking he had been on that flight and went down with everyone else. Again, before social media was a thing and cell phones an everyday item, so they didn’t know for the longest time that he was still alive. I can’t even imagine that not knowing. That pain they must have felt. The same pain that so many other Americans felt that day, and still feel.

That was one of the scariest days in our nation’s history in the time that I have been alive. It was horrible to watch, and I didn’t even fully understand at the time. It brought so much patriotism to our country, for about a year. I wish that feeling of pride and unity had continued for longer. We seem to band together on certain days, such as 9/11, July 4th, Veteran’s Day, etc. but what about the rest of the year? There have been so many other minor (in comparison) tragedies that have struck our nation, and the world in general, that it makes me sick. There is so much hate in this world, and it fills our news outlets every day. Why can’t we all just love one another and get along?

No one says it better than Alan Jackson in his song Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning):

Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?
Were you in the yard with your wife and children
Or working on some stage in L.A.?
Did you stand there in shock at the sight of that black smoke
Risin’ against that blue sky?
Did you shout out in anger, in fear for your neighbor
Or did you just sit down and cry?

Did you weep for the children who lost their dear loved ones
And pray for the ones who don’t know?
Did you rejoice for the people who walked from the rubble
And sob for the ones left below?
Did you burst out with pride for the red, white and blue
And the heroes who died just doin’ what they do?
Did you look up to heaven for some kind of answer
And look at yourself and what really matters?

I’m just a singer of simple songs
I’m not a real political man
I watch CNN but I’m not sure I can tell
You the difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith, hope and love are some good things He gave us
And the greatest is love

Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?
Were you teaching a class full of innocent children
Or driving down some cold interstate?
Did you feel guilty ’cause you’re a survivor
In a crowded room did you feel alone?
Did you call up your mother and tell her you loved her?
Did you dust off that Bible at home?

Did you open your eyes, hope it never happened
Close your eyes and not go to sleep?
Did you notice the sunset the first time in ages
Or speak to some stranger on the street?
Did you lay down at night and think of tomorrow
Or go out and buy you a gun?
Did you turn off that violent old movie you’re watchin’
And turn on “I Love Lucy” reruns?

Did you go to a church and hold hands with some strangers
Did you stand in line and give your own blood?
Did you just stay home and cling tight to your family
Thank God you had somebody to love?

[Chorus x2]

And the greatest is love.
And the greatest is love.

Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?

Never Forget September 11 Never Forget September 11

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