For my mom’s generation, the seminole moment that every can remember is where they were when Kennedy was shot. For years my moment the moment for me was where was I when the Challenger went down. And then the world changed – September 11. And now I have my own moment to remember – as do all of Americans – and we are getting very close to the 10 year mark. So where was I?
I was at work at Ebara Technologies in Manassas. I remember seeing the news on the internet about the first plane hitting the tower and by the time the page reloaded, the second plane had hit. An unbelievable turn of events. We all went into the training room and turned on the TV…and we didn’t move. We were not allowed to leave the office as the government was telling people not to be on the road. An then finally at 3:30 we all went home just to get home.
I remember it was like a scene out of a movie. Real but not quite. The news that 2 more planes had gone down – one at the Pentagon – so close to home – took a surreal experience and made it scary beyond belief. It was too easy to see the first 2 planes as a hit on New York. By the time we heard about the other 2 planes, we all realized it may be just a matter of time before there were more targets. And more targets was just unfathomable.
My mother, while not working at the Pentagon, did work for the government and I was not able to reach her. My sister and her husband both worked in the DC/Arlington area. And my brother-in-laws mom worked at the Pentagon. And we couldn’t get through phone lines. And people were abandoning their cars and walking away from them just to try and get home. A neighbor of mine was “missing” for 3 days and we found later that her job was such that she was at work for all that time and was not allowed to leave…it was too dangerous.
Mostly I remember that feeling that nothing would ever be the same.
For a while we had a renewed sense of patriotism, of love for others and a sense that we were all in this together. We waived the flag, wore t-shirts that showed that we were not going to live afraid and we swore to never let it happen again. Homeland Security and color coding the threats. And the increased amount of time it took to travel anywhere due to the security measures that put into place. The false alarms as a backpack left behind by a school child was suddenly cause for alarm in a park or school or subway station.
9/11 also lay rise to a new kind of racism. Muslims found they were the easy targets for public scorn. Suddenly everyone who looked Middle Eastern could be a threat and hate crimes rose. But it was the more silent racism that was harder to absorb. Those who found themselves nervous to be flying on a plane with someone who they thought might be Middle Eastern or Muslim. Those people who found themselves checking out the guy wearing a turban to make sure there was nothing suspicious. Suddenly an entire religion was to blame and anyone who might be construed as such was suspect.
As we near the anniversary, I have been seeing many of the images from that day on the internet. For years, I couldn’t look. I have avoided documentaries and movies about it. I have tried to not live in the fear that encapsulated our world that day. Even from afar, the fear has been real.
So this Sunday, I will take a moment to reflect. I remember the Sunday service that week – my friend Terri sang this song – Yet, I Will Praise You. I have included a link here to YouTube so you can hear it as well. I was honored to sing it the next year on the one year anniversary. It gives me peace and I hope it will for you as well.
So in remembrance I dedicate this to those who lost, to those who witnessed and to those who will never be the same.