For as long as I can remember, September has always been a favorite month for me, a time of new beginnings, a transition into my favorite season- fall. September mornings are the best…the heat of the summer starting to wane with just a hint of the cool crisp of autumn. While I am still doing my daily walk in a tank top and shorts, I know by the end of September, the tank top will be traded for a sweatshirt..but I look forward to it.
Ten years ago, I started the month of September with the same thoughts. Little did I know that before it was time to switch to sweatshirts that my little world and the little world of everyone in the US and the world would change so profoundly.
Although some of the little details have faded, I still remember so much about September 11, 2001. I remember where I was (at work), I remember the phone call from a family member…and while talking, she happened to mention that a plane had crashed into the World trade center. We both assumed it was a small plane and I think I said something along the lines that I was surprised something like that had not happened before given the height of NY buildings. We hung up and I thought nothing of it until she called back several minutes later…and that conversation was quite different. I remember co-workers…all on the phone..all clearly getting the same news I was. At the time, the agency I worked for did not have internet access so we found a little radio and were listening..horrified by the news as it unfolded.
Other things about that day that I remember with more clarity, just like it was yesterday were the phone call I received later in the day from my son when he arrived home from school. It was then I learned that someone we were close to, the father of one of his playmates and a former baseball coach, was one of the victims on the United flight that hit the World Trade center. I remember thinking how unfair. I remember the uncertainty of what would happen next. I remember going home and literally not moving from the TV news. I remember that we didn’t even bother with dinner,none of us hungry. I remember needing a break..sitting out front for a while and the eerie silence of no planes flying overhead..save for the occasional flyover of a pair of military jets. I remember school was cancelled the next day for my son ( bomb threat..this would happen at his school several times over the following weeks and months). I remember coming home from work the next day and finding him in front of the TV..it was like he couldn’t get enough. At that point, I turned off the television, knowing it was time for a break and we spent a lot of time talking. We fixed dinner together and went for a walk.
In the days that follow…I remember the feeling of unity and strength the overwhelming feeling of community..both locally and nationally. Suddenly..there was no more dems vs. pubs. There was no more us versus them. All the petty bickering suddenly seemed exactly what it was..petty. I remember there was only America, united by tragedy and strengthened in her resolve…and that was a nice feeling in the face of fear. I remember walking to St. Monica’s church where there was a multi faith service which included the local Islamic population. I have never quite felt anything like I felt during that service..and that is a sad statement I guess on society.
It’s hard to believe on this beautiful September morning that 10 years has gone by. The changes in the world have been many..but the changes in us as individuals and American citizens, has 10 years later been short lived. People are back to petty bickering and never has the US been more divided than it is now. For sure, times are tough..but they will never be as tough as they were that September morning 10 years ago. A decade later, perhaps the best way to honor and remember the people who lost their lives, both innocent victims as well as true heroes..the best way to honor them would be to remember how we all felt in the days following September 11th, 2001 and get back that feeling once again.