I Remember 9/11
I remember 9/11, like it was yesterday. And even if I didn’t, the endless news coverage, videos, and pictures have cemented it in my memory.
I remember how I didn’t find out what had happened until half-way through the school day, because my 6th grade science teacher decided to ignore administrative orders to keep it a secret. The administration wanted our parents to explain why certain people were called out of class that day. My 6th grade science teacher believed we deserved to know for ourselves and turned on the classroom TV instead.
I remember how my mom, who is a flight attendant, was sick that day and had to call in and miss her flights. We thought it was God’s intervention. Perhaps it was. But, even 11 year-old me couldn’t help but think, “God forgot to intervene on behalf of quite a few people this morning.” But, I was still thankful — thankful it wasn’t me or anyone I knew directly.
I remember watching desperate men and women jump out of windows and how my mom turned down the sound so I wouldn’t hear their bodies breaking like glass on the cement below. She told me they died in the air from falling so fast, so that I wouldn’t imagine what it would be like to die the way they actually did. And I accepted what she told me, because I didn’t want to imagine it either. It would be years before I put two and two together and realized that people skydive out of planes all the time and though they reach terminal velocity, they never terminate.
As I sit here watching the replay of the news this morning, I remember how the Towers fell. I fight the urge to yell at the firemen who just announced that they will go into the buildings to look for survivors. I want to tell them that the Towers are going to fall, that they’re all going to die. But they’re already dead and have been for 13 years. 13 years to the day. 13 years to the minute. 13 years to the second, as I watch the Towers fall, again.
I just heard them interview someone from the FAA.
“How could airport security let something like this happen? Why don’t they do more to keep us safe?” they said.
“We try to do as much as we can, but we make mistakes. We are a free and open country,” he said. “We take pride in that.”
I just heard the reporter who coined the phrase “War on Terrorism.”
“If there is a war, then it is a War on Terrorism. And it started at about 9 am this morning.”
I remember the tapes of celebrations in the Middle East, revelry surrounding America’s “downfall.” I remember how angry that made me then. It still makes me angry. But unlike then, now it also makes me sad.
I remember 9/11 like it was yesterday. And I remember everything that has happened since then.
I remember the “War on Terrorism” — the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I remember “Shock and Awe.”
I remember the search for Bin Laden and finally his death, and the celebrations that happened on my college campus that night, which eerily, horrifically, and beautifully mirrored the celebrations of Palestinians I watched exactly 10 years earlier.
I remember the Boston Marathon bombing.
I remember the Afghan wedding bombed by American drones that same day, but not reported by the American news.
I remember the attacks on American soil, by American citizens —
Oak Creek Sikh Temple, Oak Creek, WI-2012
Aurora Century Movie Theater, Aurora, CO-2012
Casas Adobes, Tucson, AZ-2011
Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, CT-2012
Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA-2007
Fort Hood, Killeen, TX-2009, 2014
Trayvon Martin, Sanford, FL-2012
Jordan Davis, Jacksonville, FL-2012
Michael Brown, Ferguson, MO-2014
…and so many more. But these are the ones I remember most — mostly because they remind me of 9/11.
“We are a free and open country. And we take pride in that.”
Remember the fallen heroes — the mothers, fathers, sister, brothers, sons, daughters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends; businessmen and women, policemen and women, firefighters, front desk workers, janitors, and CEOs.
God bless this beautiful, broken, healing country. God bless all of its people — it’s lovely, wonderful, caring, mistake-making, imperfect people. God bless America.
Honor the dead.
“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed;
we are perplexed, but not in despair;
persecuted, but not forsaken;
cast down, but not destroyed.”
2 Corinthians 4:8–9