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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where Were You?

Where were you when Kennedy was shot?  

I remember hearing people ask one another that question a lot when I was growing up and wondering how it was that every single person who was alive then and over a certain age could recall vivid details of exactly where they were and what they were doing on that sad, tragic day in American History.  

Because that horrific event took place nearly eight years before I  took my first breath in the world and I really couldn't recall any memory that vividly and especially not one that I shared with the better part of the world's population. Now I know it was because I had not ever experienced anything as equally tragic and shocking at that point in my life. 

I wish I could still say that...

September 11, 2001 changed that for me as it did for so many of us. I didn't personally know any of the innocent persons who lost their lives that day and at that time I could not even imagine what their families and friends must be going through because I had not yet lost a loved one so close to me and so suddenly and tragically.  

It was a rainy Tuesday morning here and I had just dropped little two year old Devin off at his morning preschool and was pulling into the parking lot of the florist when I heard my favorite morning radio show hosts, Bob and Sheri, announce breaking news of a plane hitting one of the twin towers in New York. There was still much confusion at this point but they were beginning to speculate that it was done on purpose and by terrorists?! 

How could this be? Surely they were mistaken.  I had just been there in those buildings three years earlier while on a business trip to New Jersey. We drove over to the city one evening and had a drink at On Top Of The World which was on the top floor of one of the towers.  

Dana, Shirley and I watched the coverage on the tiny black and white t.v. that I believe Shirley brought with her to the shop.  We watched as black smoke billowed out of the north tower and then as  the south tower was hit and on and on as the Pentagon was hit, a plane had crashed in Pennsylvania and those massive buildings that were surely still occupying hundreds, if not thousands, of Americans collapsed into a massive cloud of darkness.

I recall, for the first time in my lifetime as an American citizen, feeling completely vulnerable, violated, infuriated, afraid, uncertain, unsettled and unsafe. It was a strange and unfamiliar feeling.  And I didn't like it.  

The world seemed to barely move along in slow motion for the rest of the day and there was this sort of invisible, yet overbearing and angry haze of uncertain doom and darkness thickening the air, making it difficult for all of us to breathe and carry on with our daily activities.  So we just sat in the eerie, quiet stillness of no ringing phones and no walk-in customers staring at that tiny t.v. and trying desperately to make sense of what had just happened to our nation.  

I struggled that afternoon at closing time as to whether or not to continue on to my class at the gym as normal and in the end I went but my heart was just not in it and on the way home as I continued to listen to the coverage on the radio, I broke down and cried so hard I could barely see to drive.  

And then I prayed...

Prayed for the victims and their families, prayed for all those still missing, prayed for our leaders and our nation, prayed for peace, understanding and strength...  I just prayed and cried and prayed and cried all the way home.  

That evening I continued to watch the horrific coverage with Darin and little Devin who kept questioning why dose big airpwanes hit da tall buildings.  

In the following days and weeks we made countless red, white and blue ribbons and bows for customers wanting to show their support and patriotism by wearing them, tying them to their cars, mailboxes and front doors.  You couldn't look anywhere without seeing an American flag flying proudly high nor could you turn on the radio without hearing songs like The Star Stangled Banner,  America, My Country 'Tis of Thee, or God Bless America.  

"You can be sure that the American spirit will prevail over this tragedy."
--Colin Powell
There was no line drawn in the sand between Democrats and Republicans, no harsh words of criticism directed at our president, and no complaining about our government and the taxes we all hate to pay.  For awhile, we were all just grateful to be alive and proud to be Americans. 

Of course that all eventually faded away as our nation began to heal and struggle to rebuild and create a new sense of normal as we adjusted to a heightened, strengthened level of national security.  We were beginning to feel safe in our world again so we relaxed and began to take things...our freedom and our rights... for granted once more. 

But ask anyone alive today, over the age of fifteen or sixteen (Devin is now twelve and has no memory of the day), where they were on that Tuesday, ten years ago today, and a detailed account they will no doubt be able to give and they too will recall how wonderful it felt to be an American surrounded by other Americans who all loved their country so deeply in those following days and weeks.

We must never forget...

But how could we possibly?  

Where were you when the world stopped turning?  


  1. I was getting ready to take S to preschool. I was pregnant with AK. I remember being scared about bringing another child into this world.

    I, too, was completely overwhelmed. It really shook me up. This morning as I should be in the shower, I can't break away from the TV to get ready for church. So, many precious children, survivors and families pulled together and just kept on keeping on. And, thinking about the heroes of flight 93 that over took the plane knowing their own deaths would be eminent.

    I went to ground zero almost a year to the date after 9/11. It was such an eerie feeling. It was scary and sad. I went to NYC, again, last year. I could see all the progress of rebuilding and hope. It was such a different feeling.

    Since 9/11 I have had cousins, brother in laws, and family friends join the armed services. People didn't do that when I was growing up. Today, we will have a service for our pastor's son who will be leaving this week for the Army. It makes me so honored to be an American and know that young people all over understand what it takes to have freedom and live in a land like America.

    Thank you for this blog, today.
    God Bless America!

  2. I was at an elementary school near Dulles airport teaching school. The library aide came and got me out of the computer lab and had me watch the events unfolding on T.V.

  3. I was at work when a co-worker came by and said a plane had hit one of the towers. I immediately went to the Internet, but it was moving so slowly due to the number of people trying access information.

    After the Pentagon was struck, our CEO personally came down to tell the managers to allow us to go home. It was the longest commute ever.

  4. I can even tell you exactly what I was wearing that day - pink sweater and black skirt. I was on my way to work when I heard the news about the first tower. I was listening to Howard Stern, and while I wanted to believe he was joking, I knew he wasn't. I watched the plane hit the 2nd tower when I got to work. My colleagues and I did absolutely nothing that day. We were glued to the television. I was working in one of the corporate offices of FedEx at the time. Our planes were grounded; our offices were on lock down. It still makes my heart hurt just remembering.

  5. As you know already, I was home with my babies. One walking around, one in the belly.

    Had my ex not been home, I probabbly would have not known for days since the TV never made it off of Sesame Street.

    So, So, sad...

  6. I was teaching, and unknowingly giving a moment by moment description to my KDG's and 1st graders. Because we thought it was an accident. When the 2nd plane hit, I remember saying it outloud, repeating it, then making the kids go to lunch early. Schedules for the day were shot. Since we live in DE, close to NY, DC and PA, we were hurried back inside as planes were being grounded. The kids somehow saw people jumping and the towers fall. It was such a fail on our part as teachers to allow that to happen. Violet is 8 and suddenly understand what happened this year. She was inconsolable on Friday night after listening to the radio and hearing people talk about it. When I think about what my students saw, at a year younger than Violet . . . well. Friday was a wake up call for me. I haven't figured out what to tell Violet yet. But I have to explain what happened, give her some details without telling her too much. Any motherly advice?

  7. Beautifully written. Your description of the day was perfect.
    My son was off from work that day, and he came up to be with my (not yet) husband and me at our shop. I remember just wanting the three of us to be together, probably because we were so unsure of what might happen.
    I could relate to the red, white & blue bows you mentioned. My ex-husband & I owned a Ben Franklin store at the time of the first Persian Gulf war, and we made yellow bows and red, white & blue ones til our arms ached. We had folks standing in line for them. And that was a good thing!

  8. Where was I when Kennedy was shot? I was in high school and remember it well.

    On the morning of 9/11/2001 I was on the road driving my work truck and listened to the events unfold over the radio.

    God bless and have a great week :-)


  9. I was watching The Today Show as usual so I watched along with everyone as it unfolded live. I hope we never experience another tragedy like that in our lifetimes. Awful!