This weekend marks twenty years of the collapse of the Twin Towers. I will never forget that day as long as I live. Watching on television as those frightened and terrorized souls perished is a memory that stays in my mind and the minds of many who witnessed the catastrophic events unfolding. At the time, I was working as a scheduler in a doctor’s office. One of the doctors came into the office and announced that the Twin Towers were under attack. The casualties were unknown at the time. They sent the entire staff home. When I got to the house, my then-husband had the television on, and just as I was setting my things down, another plane flew into the second tower. Disbelief and horror made me rigid. I couldn’t believe the sights that I saw. I watched in horror as bodies jumped out of the buildings to their deaths. It was worse than any horror movie because it was real and devastating.
A few years later, I went to school to finish my Bachelor’s degree. I met a man who was supposed to have perished in the tower. He had to go to a meeting in one of them, and he was sick. He ended up canceling that appointment, only to realize later that he was among the fortunate. He would tell you otherwise. His best friend in college was at that meeting and never came out. He lives with the guilt that many survivors face, and while he knows fate spared him, it doesn’t make the attacks any less significant to him. He would have given anything for his friend to still be on this earth and have the family he wanted.
So many people signed up for the military after 9/11. Some of them gave their lives in wars that the average person can not begin to fathom what they saw. The things we all take for granted in our lives, these brave men and women experienced all kinds of cultures and shocking behaviors. The attacks didn’t happen only at the towers, the Pentagon was under attack, and another plane crashed in Pennsylvania. Almost 3000 people perished that day. Their families didn’t get to see them again. Young children didn’t understand who would hurt their parents and why. All they knew was something unimaginable had happened. The fear and anger in this country and many parts of the world were palpable. For a small window of time, political parties united because we were under attack. As a nation, we swore we’d never forget, and yet with all the bickering with each other, we’ve forgotten that sickening feeling of watching others die right in front of us.
Some members of my family are retired military in various branches. These men and women had no issue protecting and defending us. I asked my uncle once about his years in the service. He wasn’t a man of many words. He replied that serving the country was the easy part, surviving politics was the frustrating part, and seeing the results was the rewarding part. That was all he said. He didn’t mince words.
I still remember how it felt watching the towers fall to the ground. It was as if everything was happening in slow motion. I couldn’t cry or feel at that moment because I was too shocked to move. I sat there paralyzed with fear and disgust. Anger would soon seep into my blood with the realization of what was happening. About a month after the attacks, my memory returned to when my husband and I had gone to Alaska. As we were exiting the plane, some men appeared to be casing out the aircraft and patterns. I’ll never know if they were directly involved, but that realization struck me with frustration because if it was, then they had been watching those patterns of flights for months. We could have been on those flights. My heart sank to the bottom of my stomach. I wanted to hurl at that realization.
I’ve never forgotten how it felt to watch those horrors unfold on the television screen. I remember thinking, how could these groups attack so many innocent civilians? Then I realized that terrorists don’t care who they hurt. They don’t look at life the same way many of us do. This weekend, I hope you take a moment to remember how fragile life is and cherish every moment. The families left behind from those attacks have had to go forward in their lives while they held onto memories of those they loved. Don’t put off the things that are important to you because tomorrow isn’t promised. Hell, sometimes the day isn’t either. Thank the servicemen and women who continuously fight for our freedom. Acknowledge the veterans and emergency personnel who have seen things that most of us couldn’t stomach. To all the men, women, and children that lost their loved ones in those events, the world remembers the devastation you faced. We all lost a piece of ourselves that day. Their legacies are not forgotten, and as long as we learn from those tragedies, then their lives will continue to touch generations. I usually close out with have a great weekend. But this weekend, I hope that you all can have a few moments to process the significance of our history. As much as people may want to forget about that day, there will always be situations that remind us why we should never forget. #Neverforget