Yesterday was September 11. A date which will live in infamy for my lifetime.
It’s pretty much the Pearl Harbor of our generation. I know exactly where I was the moment I heard the news. I was in the 8th grade, and I was riding the bus to school. Of all things…I was riding the bus. I heard my favorite DJ announce the news on my fave radio station. At first, I thought he was joking. I’d recently gotten myself into a slightly obsessive military phase. What I mean by that is, anything resembling army gear, I wanted it and I wanted it bad.
This was the time the seed was planted for me to join the army, to be all that I can be. Plus, at that time, it was still slightly unheard of for women to join the army. After watching and falling in love with the movie Black Hawk Down, I moved my gaze to more difficult obstacles for women. I wanted to be an Army Ranger, and if possible, a Delta Ranger. I had the mindset of steel. No one was going to tell me no, especially not a man in army fatigues. I’d outlast them all.
Anyways, along with this new plan (but what sort of plan do you actually follow through on at the age of 14?), I wanted the wardrobe to match the master idea. So, camouflage pants, camouflage T-shirts, black tank tops, heavy-duty army-style boots (tall and short), tan undershirts, dog tags that read ‘Army Brat’….anything military inspired, I either wanted to wear it or own it.
So, it’s September 11, and I’m riding the bus to school wearing my heavy brown army boots, and I hear the DJ make this announcement. My ears didn’t perk up until the third time he said something, and I instantly thought, “Oh no. They’re attacking headquarters. They must be stopped!”
“I have often depended on the blindness of strangers,”
A font of funny lines, Adrienne Gusoff, has hit it on the mark with this one. Let’s just say we all knew I was a drama-filled kid from an early age, but nowadays and starting back when I was a young thing, when I put my mind to something, I went at it with all speed ahead. When I was set on joining the military, I wanted people to know it. Hence, the sudden wardrobe change (however, I drew the line at buzz cuts.)
But, being the juvenile that I was, I hadn’t quite grasped entirely what was going on. Not until I walked into second period English, and the teacher had the TV on, watching the first Tower smoke its way across the sky. That’s when it hit me, what really was going on. We talked about it all during first period Band, and we attempted to play a song, but we all knew our teacher’s mind wasn’t in it. So we talked about it instead.
It was in English when the 2nd Tower fell, and my teacher brushed it off as repeat footage of the first tower falling. But it wasn’t. The 2nd Tower collapsed, and I felt my heart drop as I stared at the TV screen. How could both Towers suddenly be gone? Just like that? Through the haze and the smoke, two very large holes now gaped widely at the world. My next thought? “Who the hell gets the idea to fly two planes into towers filled with people? How is this possible?”
I didn’t personally know anyone in the Towers or anyone on the planes which crashed into the Pentagon or into the field in Pennsylvania. But my heart went out to those who lost their loved ones, or who would be put to the worst test of all time: the unknown. They didn’t know if their family/friends were alive, and they would have to wait.
Waiting is the worst. I think waiting kills more people than actual disasters or diseases.
I visited the Sept. 11 memorial site in the spring of 2007, and I was overcome with so many feelings. I didn’t actually cry, but my gut was twisted in every which way and I couldn’t eat for hours afterwards. The lists of names of those still missing, the notes and mementos left for those still hoping for the biggest of miracles. Someone was playing their violin and the soft notes of “America the Beautiful” made my heart ache. Staring into the pit of the rubble (which was all cleared away by this time, but this giant hole still remained), I couldn’t help but wonder what is was like here…on this infamous day six years ago…to look up and see the towers smoking on the horizon and knowing tomorrow when you woke up, the world would be a different place.
The movie “World Trade Center” always brings me to tears, and maybe for a few not so obvious reasons. I’ve always loved Nicholas Cage, but here was a new take for him. He breaks my heart. Mario Bello and Maggie Gyllenhal do, too. I wasn’t with anyone who waited for word on a loved one down at the tower site, but I feel like I’m right there with them. The anguish that crosses their faces kills me. One question is raised by a police officer in the movie, the one who crawled down into the void to pull Cage and Pena’s characters out of the rubble: “All these people in these towers…Where are they? Where did they go?”
I often ask myself the same question when I think about those still missing.
Along with remembering the tragedy of the day, and sending out love and hugs to those greatly hurt by the hatred and terror of those we don’t entirely understand, we must also thank those who gave their lives or put themselves on the line all in the name of hope, brotherhood, and because it was the right thing to do. It’s amazing how human we all become despite out difference when tragedy strikes as hard and swift as September 11 saw all those years ago. Honestly, it feels like yesterday.
I want to thank them all: Policemen, firemen, first responders, military personnel, the National Guard, doctors, nurses, priests, the families, the spouses, the friends, the common man on the street who decided he’d put his best effort forth, complete strangers who quickly became friends. Everyone…thank you.
On that note, here are a few things to keep your spirits high. Out of darkness, a bright light will shine.
– Every dream-come-true starts with hope.
– You have every reason to feel confident. You’re amazing.
– It’s time to be who you were meant to be: a success story!
– Positive thinking works — and its free.
– You will have more triumphs than troubles.
– One smile can make everything better. Especially your smile.
– No need to try so hard. You’re alreadyterrific!
It’s always darkest right before the dawn. We’re stronger than we were yesterday, and we can only go up from here.
Take it easy, and hug those who you love most.