~ Where the Sun Will Never Set on Our liberty ~
Twelve years ago today, I was a junior in high school. My morning started off like every other morning. I was half-asleep as my mom talked to me. I didn’t really digest much of it, not because of anything personal, but because I’ve never been a morning person. Ever. Those of you who know me personally, know this all too well.
My biggest concern that day was that my first period class was Biology. The Biology teacher was this creepy old dude with a terrible attitude. Anyway, I had a test that morning, and I wasn’t ready for it.
So, here I am, sitting in Bio class, looking down at these questions, thinking, “I am SO screwed”, when suddenly we hear our Dean of Students on the loudspeaker. He announced a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I can’t speak for the rest of the teachers, but our teacher turned on the TV. I can’t remember what the news reporters were saying because I just kept looking at the tower.
Then came the second plane.
I knew, at that moment, that a) that was no accident, and b) that our lives would change forever.
I had never been to New York. I remember asking my teacher to please let me call my aunt because I didn’t know how close her job was to the WTC, and I was worried. I lost count of how many times I called her. It was impossible to get through. About two hours later, my dad would call to let me know he spoke with her and everything was okay (mind you, no one was “okay” that day, but she was safe).
I remember classmates calling home, or getting calls from their parents. We were moved into another classroom, where we saw the rest of the events unfold, including the collapse of both North and South towers. It was an art classroom. I have no idea why I remember that, by the way.
My mom called me and said she was on her way to pick me up. What a sigh of relief that was, since my mom works in our Downtown area, our financial district. Feeling like the rug was just taken out from under us, many of us wondered what city was next. Having loved ones in skyscrapers on that day was an absolute nightmare.
Many parents picked their kids up from school that morning. I finally got home, and even though it felt nice to be someplace safe and familiar, where my grandmother was making lunch for us, I felt like I didn’t really know what “safe and familiar” was anymore. The day went on, and I stayed glued to the TV.
I didn’t lose anyone on that day. My best friend did, unfortunately, but I can’t pretend to understand what those who lost a loved one that day felt.
What I can say, is that a part of me died that day. The bubble burst. The innocent mentality I had, in which I thought nothing could happen to us, because this is America… that disappeared. I saw people falling from the towers. I can’t ever get those images out of my head. Reporters didn’t even know what they were seeing at first. That was on national TV. There is still a lot of anger in me, a lot of hate, a lot of yearning for the days when I still had hope of going to New York and seeing the Twin Towers I had heard so much about…the days when I felt better about the world.
However, after that day… in the weeks, months and years that followed, some of my faith was restored. I saw America come together like I NEVER thought possible. I saw strangers helping one another. I saw Americans live – go to ball games, laugh, sing, pray. I saw us rebuild. And through the chaos, debris, dust and destruction…I saw our flag.
It was still there.
I’ve also seen the incredible bravery of our military in the years that followed. I’ve always appreciated our troops, but I think, because of how this day changed me and made me feel, I appreciated them even more. The concept of us having the greatest military in the world was one I clutched onto for dear life, because that thought made me calm. To the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines I’ve had the absolute honor of meeting, whether in person or through social media, especially those who have fought in OEF and/or OIF, there are NO words- none- that could accurately explain the level of respect, admiration and gratitude I have for you. On a certain level, you saved me. You gave me hope and made me feel safe. You still do. You all have a big piece of my heart.
The monsters who did this are still a very real threat, and it would be wise for us to remain vigilant; however, they will NOT break us. We’ve lost a great deal since that day, from lives to liberties. We can’t bring anyone back, but we can fight to get back to being the nation we once were. If we cannot live free, then life is not worth living.
And that is where I am today- active, vocal and fighting, however I can, so that our liberties aren’t taken from us and so that my daughter will know America for what it has always been- the greatest nation on the face of the Earth.
So, on this day, I encourage you to share your memories. This exercise has a way of bonding people, like living through those memories did 12 years ago.
God bless you all.