My favorite college breakfast was an egg, sausage, and cheese biscuit from the cafe in the LRC. I got one nearly everyday until the money on my card ran out. That morning was no exception. I slept through my alarm, but was not willing to sacrifice my breakfast sandwich so I did the only thing that made sense, I skipped class. As I was waiting for my food, my friend Pablo came into the cafe and said "your country is being attacked" I thought I misunderstood, or he was kidding, or he had misunderstood. I took my sandwich and ran back to my dorm room as fast as I could.
I flipped on the TV, sandwich long forgotten now, and watched in horror as an airplane came hurtling through the sky and plowed straight into one of the towers of the World Trade Center.
You could hear screams and cries up and down the halls of the dorm. I was dumbfounded. What was happening? I stared at the TV with tears streaming down my face. I had friends in the Trade Center. Were they alive? My brother was in law school in New York, was he ok? I just didn't understand; I don't think anyone did.
As the day went on and news of the Pentagon and Flight 93 in Pennsylvania came through, it gradually dawned on us all that America was being attacked. It was sobering and terrifying.
I remember picking up the phone and desperately dialing Joe. 212.642.3442. over and over and over again that day. I wasn't sure what I was even going to say, I just wanted to know that he was alive. No news. No word. Nothing. 3 days later I got a call. He made it out because he was late to work that day and had not made it all the way to the top. His fiance and his best friend went in on time, straight up to the 105th floor. They didn't make it out. What do you say to that? Nothing would ever be good enough.
September 11, 2001 changed our world forever. Thousands of people were taken away from their families and friends. Thousands of people who were just doing their normal daily routines were, in a matter of hours, trapped in a nightmare no one would have ever imagined.
Stories have emerged over the past 10 years, heartbreaking stories that remind us just how frail humanity is. Stories of pain and of courage. Stories of strength and of despair. Reminders of how in an instant our entire world can come crashing in around us. As I watched the towers crumble that day, tears pouring down my face, I remember feeling so helpless, so distraught. Just seconds earlier people were clinging to the windows of the towers, waving shirts and papers, desperately trying to get the attention of someone, anyone who could rescue them. Seconds later the towers lay in a heap of burring rumble. Something struck me that day that 10 years later is even stronger. "Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for another" (John 15:13) I was watching in safety while hundreds of people made the choice to act. Hundreds choose to put someone elses life in front of theirs, hundreds died while saving hundreds more. As the anniversary approaches and stories from survivors come pouring in, we are reminded.
Reminders of men like Frank De Martini who was on the 88th floor of the North Tower. He was having coffee with his wife when the plane hit 5 floors above him. He, along with another man Pablo, managed to safely evacuate his entire floor. Instead of exiting the building with his staff, and his wife, the two men made the choice to go up. They made it to the 91st floor, rescuing 77 people who were trapped and would have otherwise perished. Their courage and selflessness saved the lives of dozens and dozens of others. Not just the people themselves, but their families as well.
I wish I knew specific details about each and every firefighter, emergency worker, police officer and port authority worker that selflessly sacrificed their lives and families for hte sake of others. But I don't. What I do know is that there are over 400 dead seervice men and women who made the choice that day to serve, regardless of what it would cost them. These people tirelessly fought their way through burring steel, blinding smoke and unimaginable danger to do whatever they could to save another. In the process they died, but what a legacy they left.
The men and women of Flight 93 fought the same way. They made the choice to stand up in the face of adversity. With the news of other hijacked planes hitting targets on the ground these people showed unbelievable strength and courage to do everything that was within their power to keep their plane from being next. As it went down in that Pennsylvania field, the families of those left behind can be proud of the courage showed by every passenger on that plane.
I will always remember that morning in the LRC and my breakfast sandwich. I will never forget the attacks on the country. I collected newspapers and articles everyday for 2 weeks after September 11 with the intention of having first hand accounts to share with my children one day; to explain what happened that tragic day and how Americans pulled together to show great compassionate and courage. I want my kids to know why it is such a significant day in our history.
But can we do more than remember? Often times when there is a tragedy we have a tendecney to sensationalize. It becomes more about us and telling our story rather than what we can do to the people deeply affected. September 11th is not something that we can simply put down to new, annoying airline restrictions or extra taxes. It was a real and deadly event that thousands are still paying the ultimate price for today. So again I ask myself what can we do?
It has been mentioned that people are getting "911 fatigue" it was 10 years ago and people just want to move on, stop giving, stop helping. But what does that do for everyone else? What does that kind of attitude offer to the people who so selflessly gave their all? what about their children, their families?
There is an organization called Tuesday's Children. It is a non-profit set up with the goal to help each and every child directly affected by the September 11th attacks. They not only provide the needed enjoyable, relaxing activities but also essential counseling, mentoring and support to kids whose entire world fell apart that day. AS a mother myself it really strikes a cord. Just because the actual attacks were 10 years ago, does that make the need any less? No child should have to grow up without a mom or a dad- or in some cases, without both. Over the past 5 years this organization, which is the only one of its kind, has lost over half of its funding. "911 fatigue" at its finest.
You can say that there are tragedy's everyday. and there are. You can say that worse things are happening all over the world than what happened on September 11th. And that is probably true. You can probably come up with a hundred other things to do and care about and a hundred other things that demand your time and attention. But these kids need some attention. They need to be remembered. And I will remember. I will remember the pain and desperation I felt as I watched part of my world crumble around me. I will remember the frailty of life as I think about the thousands that lost theirs that day. And I will always remember the courage and resolve that Americans showed to one another, and to the nation, as they sacrificed so much for each other.
Eleri will grow up in world very different to the one I grew up in. She will never get to say goodbye to someone at the gate and watch an airplane fly away. She will never walk up to national monuments with ease. She will never go to the top of the Statue of Libery. She wont ever be able to just walk around the Capitol building. But those are all small changes. September 11 changed Eleri's life, but not nearly in the way it changed the children who lost everything. So, in an effort to do more than just remember, for every person that leaves a comment I will give a donation to the charity Tuesday's Children. I feel like it is the least I can do. The least I can do as a mother, as a citizen of this great country, as someone who so vividly remembers that day.
Let us honor with our thoughts, words and prayers all those thousands of people who lost so much that fateful day in September, 10 years ago.