I have been feeling a pit in my stomach lately. Its a pit that is associated with writing this article. I still don’t want to write about 9/11…and its hard to talk about it. But, I have children. One of my children is almost 13, and she has questions. She is fascinated. She wants to know more about September 11, 2001.
But how can I tell her? How can I make her understand? The same way my parents could never convey to me their feelings on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, I cannot convey my feelings on the day our nation was attacked and rocked to its very core. A day every American suffered – and some lost everything. Husbands, wives, children, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, and friends. The countless heroes, and the cowardice of hatred and terrorism.
“Mom, where were you and what were you doing?” she asks. Where do I begin? The same as every other person in the Tri-State area. The most clear, blue sky…no humidity, and near-perfect temperatures. Could God have created a more beautiful day? I would ask myself this as I was getting out of my car to go into my office. A clear day – perfect for navigating an airplane for one unfamiliar with piloting frequently. I went into my office, put on the coffee and sat down at my computer to read email. I had dial-up then, and AOL was slow. One of the secretaries came in, and told me that a plane had hit the World Trade Center, North Tower. I hopped on AOL…and began the slow and torturous witness to the whole thing unfolding. The other attorneys came in. We listened and watched in horror. And…a few hours later, we closed our office, and one by one, went home to our families.
I went home to my baby. My husband came home, and we sat in our bedroom, glued to the television. We moved about daily tasks in slow motion…while lower Manhattan, and the Pentagon were in high gear. Images burned into our memories…the towers falling, the debris flying, people screaming, crying out in pain and terror. The untenable knowledge that there were people propelled by the force of the “flight” respo0nse of the human body to jettison themselves out of windows stories upon stories high. And then…the clear and present knowledge that two people I knew had perished. Sorrow for the unthinkable, and rage against those who would perpetrate such an atrocity.
Yes, I shudder writing this…but it must be written. It must be burned into our collective memory. It must never, ever be forgotten. So, where was I? I can go back to that moment more clearly than any moment in my life, including the births of my children. Where were you?
The one thing I will indeed convey to my child is that we are Americans. We are beaten, we have lost much, we have been attacked, hated and maligned. We have been targeted, and will continue to be. Why? Because we stand on principal. We stand on Freedom…and where there is Freedom, there is courage, and power. We may falter, but we will not fall. We will rise…continually. And let that be a warning to those who would seek to destroy us. We are proud – I am proud to call myself an American. And that is what I want my children to know.
For information regarding 9/11 ceremonies sponsored by Westchester County, and various municipalities, you can check here.