I know many bloggers across this vast interweb are posting about their memories on this, the 10 year anniversary of 9-11-01. I've been waffling back and forth about posting about that day and finally decided to just go ahead and write about it.
First of all I want to say how deeply thankful I am for all of our nation's men and women who fight for our freedom every day, our armed forces. I am also grateful to all of our nation's first responders - police officers, fire fighters and medical personnel who save lives every day.
2001 was an exciting year for me. I graduated from high school in the spring and was ready to head to college in the fall. I grew up in a Washington DC suburb and had decided to go to college out in Northern Indiana, about 600 miles away. Culture shock to say the least!
So there I was, in September of that year, all the way out in Indiana trying to find my footing in a teeny tiny midwestern college town. I had just begun to cement friendships among my hall-mates and get the hang of navigating campus (I'm on the right in Photo 1).
September 11, 2001 started just like any other day that semester. Rolling out of bed, my roommate Lisa and I took turns getting ready using our teensy tiny bathroom we shared with 2 other girls. I didn't have an early morning class that day so my first "awake" experience would be chapel in the morning when our entire campus gathered for an hour.
I remember walking past our dorm's lobby and noticing, out of the corner of my eye, a few girls glued to the TV set. It looked like they were watching an action movie. I now know that they were watching the very first pieces of news coverage as the first plane hit the twin towers in New York City.
I got to chapel and it was oddly quiet...still, I shrugged off the ominous feeling and found a seat next to a few of my friends from the dorm, pulled out a book and some homework to do as I waited for chapel to get going.
I will never forget the feeling as my brain scrambled to catch up to what our chaplain was saying as he spoke about how "many of you have seen the news coverage of what we now know to be a terrorist attack on the Wold Trade center." As he was speaking, someone pulled him aside and I remember him visibly looking shaken. He stepped back up to the microphone and told us that a third plane had crashed into the Pentagon.
I felt the color drain from my face. My whole family lived in that area. My dad worked minutes away from downtown DC on the Virginia side, my older sister was working at NASA at the time and could easily have been downtown, not to mention my mother and younger sister could have been anywhere near the area as we lived about 15 miles outside of DC.
I don't really remember exactly how I got outside, but I distinctly remember shaking so badly I couldn't stand up as I lost my breakfast in the poor bushes outside the McClain building on campus. In the hours that followed, my memories are a blur. I remember not being able to get ahold of my dad on the phone, but finally getting through to my mom and finding out that she and my sisters were safe. I remember crying with my roommate Lisa as she knew people in New York and still didn't know if they were safe. I remember hugging strangers and we comforted each other, desperate to find out if our families were safe.
We finally were able to get word from my dad - he was safe. I remember nearly losing the contents of my stomach again as waves of relief swept over me...just as quickly waves of grief for those who would never hear from family members again, as they had been on those planes the terrorists used as weapons or in the buildings that had been targeted.
I remember what seemed like days later, people I had just met, being called to active duty as they had joined the National Guard to pay for college and now had to go actively protect our country.
I remember one of my professors telling us that this was a day our generation would remember forever. That our lives here in the United States would be forever changed. That years from now we would ask each other "where were you what the planes hit the towers" and gravely remember those who had lost their lives.
He was right.
I'm taking time today to revisit those feelings of fear, grief and thankfulness to God for protecting my family. I'm also taking time to pray for the families of everyone who lost their lives that tragic day 10 years ago. Most of all I am taking time to reflect and remember that there are men and women risking their lives overeseas and here at home in the USA to protect us from experiencing another day like 9-11-01. God bless them and keep them safe.
9-11 Memorial at the Pentagon (Washington DC)
Twin Tower Memorial Lights (New York)
Memorial Placed in Memory of Flight 93 at the site in Shankesville, PA