Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Where were you when it happened?

I remember where I was when it happened...

I was working part time at CMH when it happened, and Tuesday, September 11, 2001 was my day off. I slept in, and was awakened by a phone call.

"Can you believe what is happening? Are you seeing this?"

"What are you talking about? Seeing what?"

"The World Trade Center! Somebody attacked the World Trade Center! Somebody bombed it!"

It took a moment for the statement to register. Somebody bombed it? Attacked it? What??

I don't remember hanging up the phone, but I do remember turning on CNN, and feeling a sick, stunned feeling when I realized what I was seeing.

The second tower had just been hit. I could not fathom what I was seeing. How did this happen? Who would do this? Why would they do it? Who could be so cruel and hateful? I remember thinking...But, we're the United States of America! This just can't be happening! How did this happen? HOW did this happen?

I called a friend of mine. He was still sleeping when I called. I told him he needed to get up and turn on the news. I called him to hear his voice, to know he was okay. I called him for comfort, as though somehow it would all make more sense if he was seeing the same things I was seeing.

I could not look away. My mind and my heart tried to make sense of this. I watched the coverage all day, as if somehow CNN could tell me something that would put the pieces together, that would neatly package it and perhaps make everything turn out right by the end of the day. But there was no making sense of it. There still isn't.

The first tower began to fall, and I felt sick. I could not believe what I was seeing.

As I watched, I realized that nobody had bombed the WTC. Instead, planes had been hijacked, innocent people were sacrificed so more innocent people could be sacrificed. As the story unfolded throughout the day, we learned that the WTC was not the only site where this sickening scenario would play out, and many would die for the purpose of someone else's hateful and cruel agenda. An agenda without remorse. It is still mind boggling for me. I cannot conceive of that kind of hatred.

My dad came home from work later that day. Somewhere in the day, I had managed to shower and get dressed, then resumed watching the coverage. I was still stunned. I asked my dad if he had seen the news or heard about what was going on. I remember he told me he had seen it, and he was very quiet.

Five years later, I think the wound is still so raw for so many of us. It is still difficult to comprehend just what took place on September 11, 2001. When we let our minds go there, we realize just how vulnerable we really are. We realize there are no guarantees, nothing anyone can offer us that can assure us that this sort of horrible tragedy will never visit American soil again.

More than that, we realize we need to move forward, and I think there is some guilt associated with that. Nothing that has happened can be undone, and it is almost as if we expect to remain in mourning forever. I think that, as a nation, we have not yet given ourselves permission to move forward. We keep the wound raw, as though we fear that moving forward means we are forgetting. I can only speak for myself...but I will never forget.

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