It hardly feels like 9 years.
Then again, my life has changed by leaps and bounds in that span of time.
September 11, 2001.
All my life, I've heard people talk about how you can remember even the smallest details surrounding a profound event. That you can remember where you were, what you were doing, who you were with. When JFK was assassinated. MLK. The Challenger Explosion.
In my naive, under-20 brain, I didn't think much of it, never imagining I would experience the phenomenon in the flesh.
September 11, 2001.
I was at home, getting ready for bio class to begin at the community college. In my mind, little else was as important as my classes, my job at the coffee shop, or spending time with my boyfriend. You know, the main reason I packed my things and left "real" school the year previous, only to return the following year with said boyfriend in tow- said boyfriend that I now call husband? Yep, that boyfriend.
I was getting ready to leave for school when my Mom called me into her bedroom, where she had the TV on and was on the phone with our neighbor, Mary. At this point, the coverage was just beginning on the first plane hitting the WTC, and we were just gushing over what a horribly tragic accident this was. We were watching as the second plane came barreling in, and we just watched, dumbfounded, as it crashed into the other tower.
I distinctly remember when the reality of the situation finally registered in my brain.
Oh my God. This wasn't an accident.
Early on, and still in shock, I could hardly pull myself away from the TV, but I went to bio class anyway. Some of the people there had not even realized what had happened yet. Instead of listening to a lecture, we watched coverage. After a while, they cancelled class completely. Tyler came over after school, and we just watched coverage. My Dad came home from work that evening, but no one was up for celebrating his 48th birthday that year.
For days, I remember watching coverage. Growing sadder, more angry, more depressed. But, for whatever reason, I couldn't help but watch it.
I remember seeing countless interviews with Howard Lutnick, Chairman for Cantor Fitzgerald, the banking firm that lost 650+ employees during the attack. I remember how absolutely devastated he was, and for whatever reason, his interviews stand out in my memory of the events of 9/11.
I don't remember when they coverage grew to be less. I don't remember when life began to normalize again; when the pervading thought of every conversation wasn't September 11th. Those are details I do not remember.
I do remember when, some time after 9/11, the newspaper published a giant pull-out poster with the names of every person who lost their lives printed over an American flag background. I remember feeling nauseous, reading over those names, thinking of how many people were affected so much deeper than myself- people who knew these people. There were so many names.
To this day, I find myself watching the documentaries on the hijackings when they are televised. They are hard to watch, yet something feels right about re-living a bit of the tragedy.
I think it comes down to the remembering.
It's easy to say that 9/11 is a day I will never forget. And, that much is true. I will never forget that day.
I also feel it is a natural part of the human psyche to bury tragedy somewhere in the depths of the mind. To prevent the raw emotion from surfacing on a regular basis, to protect our well-being.
There is just something about re-living the details of that day, seeing footage, photographs, that stirs up emotion, makes it all real again. Maybe it's for the best that these feelings are remitted (personally) on most days. I am thankful, though, to not be completely desensitized to the events of that day.
Remembering is good.
We've come a long way since, and there are a multitude of ways we, as a country, still have to grow. For today, I am thankful for the life I have, for the freedoms I can enjoy, and for the men and women who continue to protect these freedoms. I am filled with sorrow for those personally affected by the events of 9/11, for those who lost loved ones on that day and the days following. I am also sad and grateful beyond words for those who have given their lives fighting for our country, for those who have lost loved ones during this war, and for those who have sacrificed and are continuing to sacrifice their time to protect us.
We will not forget.