May we never forget

Published 6:59 pm Thursday, September 9, 2021

Recently I asked our readers to tell us where they were and what they were doing when the world stood still for so many people on September 11, 2001. Many of you responded and some of those responses are featured in the special insert in the Journal’s weekly paper.

The events that occurred on 9-11 are something few of us will ever forget. It was the first time in my life that I was legitimately scared of the world around me. It was also the first time I really began to notice our government and the surrounding world.

I was 19-years old and living in Pensacola, Florida. I knew very few people besides my husband in the area at the time. Ironically, we were both donating blood at the time the first plane struck the Twin Towers.

We heard parts of conversations from staff but could only put together that a plane had crashed.

People seemed frightened. As a 19-year-old girl who had never known anything but peace and safety, I couldn’t comprehend the significance of what was transpiring. Smartphones were not glued to everyone’s palms in 2001 like they are today, so we had to wait until we were back home to learn of the horrors that were playing out in New York.

Once we arrived home, I immediately turned on the television and watched in horror and fear as the video footage of not one plane, but two hit the Twin Towers over and over again on the screen. Everything was on a loop. The world stood still.

I recall watching as people ran, bloody and covered in smut from the fires and dust. I watched as people jumped from the skyscrapers to their deaths, trying to escape the flames that now engulfed their office space. I can still see them to this day, falling, and remembering how fake it looked and trying to convince myself what I was seeing wasn’t real. It couldn’t be real.

I couldn’t comprehend it all. I knew I was scared, and something terrible was happening; people were dying, had died.

I felt lost.

Thoughts of WWII filled my mind. Was this the start of WWIII? Would my future no longer be full of college classes and instead be filled with death and hiding from the enemy?

I called my daddy.

He was living in Indiana, and he was the only parent I had left, my mother having died when I was much younger. We had spoken before about him moving back closer to home, and right then, I needed my daddy.

After ensuring my dad would be making his way back home, my husband, Tim, and I watched as the towers collapsed and listened to the horrifying accounts of people in New York on tv.

We learned of the attack on the Pentagon.

We learned of flight 93.

I remember being filled with hope when I learned the passengers of flight 93 fought back and were able to bring down the plane, knowing they would die, to keep it from reaching its intended target.

The 44 passengers on flight 93, countless fire, police and everyday citizens who put themselves in harm’s way became heroes that day. Many died heroes that day.

The days following the attacks were filled with bits and pieces of new information. Speculation of who was responsible and conspiracy theories ran rampant.

The nation began recovery. Recovery of the dead and anyone still alive under the rubble.

Recovery as a people.

I recall the feeling of unity we as American’s had, the kindness we shared with each other. Our neighbors were no longer someone who lived next door or down the street; they were family.

The entire world seemed to stand in solidarity with us against the enemy, seeming to know if a terrorist could strike here in such a great magnitude, nowhere was truly safe.

Over the last 20 years, lives have moved on, and the trauma of the events of 9-11 have been dulled but not forgotten.

As horrible as the events that transpired were, I long for the days of unity our country exhibited post 9-11. When people help each other rather than pointing fingers and casting blame. Where neighbors were family and enemies were across the ocean, not across the street.

I hope the 20 year anniversary of 9-11 reminds you of the pride we felt for America and the love we felt for each other in the days and weeks following the terrorist attack on our own soil. I hope everyone is a little kinder to each other, and I hope the ones who perished will live on in our hearts and memories. Never forget.