I remember where I was the morning of September 11, 2001. I was getting dressed, putting my shoes on, and getting ready to run the dog to the vet. I was nearly 6 months pregnant and exceptionally hormonal–we had buried a friend’s 3 y/o son 4 weeks before and I was having a hard time with the grief and influx of hormones at the same time.
I was watching Good Morning America, as is my habit, and was a bit surprised when they broke away to a network reporter who was on the streets of Manhattan. He said that a building was on fire, but the reason for the fire was unknown. Charlie Gibson asked him about the reported sound when the fire was noticed, and the reporter said it sounded like a missile to him. That was simply impossible. Preposterous! Then there was word of a fire at the Pentagon. How strange to have two fires in two buildings like that at the same time!
Then the camera was showing the first tower of the World Trade Center and it caught the (second) jet flying in to the side of the second tower. I watched in slow motion–horrified that someone flying a jet could be so off target and make such a mistake.
The idea that it wasn’t a mistake and was intentional never entered my head–at least, not at first. I was horrified and sick to my stomach. I felt like I was watching the world come to an end. And to a degree, it was. My world as I knew it came to an end on that horrible day. If I thought my tears over the death of a toddler was bad, it was worse now–I simply couldn’t pull myself together as I watched the horror unfold and thought of the families who would never see their loved ones again.
I don’t know about you, but I am immediately transported back to that terrible day–the depth of emotions, the extent of my grief for those I never knew, and the anger at those who did it, but also at those who rejoiced in our loss and pain. Oftentimes when I think of it, I’m surprised at the raw intensity of the emotions and how quickly I’m back at that day 5 years ago.
This year, I decided that Brendan was mature enough to know what happened (I blogged last year that I just told him that bad people had killed many innocent people and he tried to comfort me as I remembered). So we watched this together today. I told him what he was seeing and couldn’t help myself as the tears rolled down my cheeks. Even now, I am weepy as I recount details and consider those who were lost that day. He asked many questions, but seemed to understand. He wanted to watch it again later in the day and had me explain it all over again to him. He thought it was “new news,” but I explained that it happened 5 years ago, when he was still in my tummy. He couldn’t imagine that anyone could do that. My simplistic explanation to him today was that these people didn’t know God. If they’d known God and His love, they wouldn’t have done it. And that made sense to him.
In an overly simplistic way, that makes sense to me, too. That day was so marked by grief and loss and immense sadness that it’s hard to realize quite *why* this happened. The simple fact is that those who did it and those who rejoiced over the acts don’t know the love of God. I simply cannot compute the fact that such hatred can coexist with God’s love and Spirit. And in fact, the Bible says it can’t.
More than anything, I refuse to forget what happened. No matter how far we get from the day, I will mark it in my heart and mind. I wonder if the passion with which I refuse to forget is similar to those who lived through the bombing of Pearl Harbor. I know in terms of “where I was” it is similar to those who lived through JFK’s assassination. But as sad as that was, it wasn’t a national tragedy like this was.
No matter how you mark this day in your life, I hope you remember those who were simply going through their normal day, doing whatever they were doing, when 19 evil men changed their destinies forever. Remember that no matter what you think of international policy, the people who were killed had nothing to do with it. They simply had the misfortune of being in a place that was targeted by enemies of our country. Or, in the case of Flight 93, they showed immense bravery by sacrificing themselves to save more lives in Washington, D.C.
May we never forget..