Every year on this day, I think about where I was when our world crashed down around our ears. Where I was when I first realized how vulnerable we were as Americans, and how easily we bleed, cry and mourn. I remember where I was when I watch as Americans burned, and in a country far away people cheered for our demise. We may be a lot of things, we Americans, but I like to think we are not cruel. I don’t remember ever seeing televised celebrations of Americans as other worlds suffered great loses in unnecessary violence.
I was not home; I was in another state, training new servers to open a restaurant I was working for. I was in a strange place, in the middle of a construction site, with no way to get a hold of my family, and we needed to keep people calm. We were an assembled group from all over the country, New York included. We didn’t work that day, but stayed still and offered support when it was needed. Some people got drunk, drowning their worry in hard liquor. I was not one of those; I was to overcome by fear and sadness. It took hours to get through, first to my Mom, and after I spoke to her I called my then boyfriend, now my husband. I sat on the floor of my hotel room, and I cried. Both Jacob and my Mom wanted to drive to Florida and get me. Flights were cancelled until further notice. I told them I wanted to stay, to finish my job, and I would come home a month later, as planned. And the following days we did work, we opened our doors and eventually I flew home. Walking into a empty airport is a bizarre scene. People were both scared to fly and no one but the flyers were allowed within the terminals.
I think I knew it then, that our world would be changed. Sometimes you know that subtle things will change it. But this was a large stone thrown into the river of our lives, forever changing the current, forever changing our view of the world, and the world’s view of us. It has been 11 years, my heart still aches, I still cry when I see images, I still weep for the lives lost that day, and the lives that have been lost since in the wars that started and have yet to end. We have lived in fear, in rage and in sorrow. We continue to live in a world that is dominated by political unrest and dissatisfaction, by a poor economy, by intolerance, by wheels of change that will crush us if we are not careful. We were changed on September 11, 2001. I was forever changed and miss the world we left behind.
I hope one day, if we have children I can explain to then this feeling. That I can tell them of the few times in our history when we stood together as a nation. We were truly united and though we were damaged we were not broken beyond repair. I hope I can show them what it meant to be an American in the days that followed. They will not understand, but I will tell them anyway. Because we must remember, always remember, where we were on that day when the world was changed.