Saturday, September 11, 2021

Twenty Years and We Will Never Forget

It was a picture-perfect day - clear, blue skies with the first hints of fall hanging in the air. I had just started my sophomore year of college, and I remember marveling at what a gorgeous day it was as I parked my little maroon Honda in front of the school gym. I sat down in my first class of the day - Health - and just as I was getting settled in, a fellow classmate came running into the classroom saying, “A plane just crashed into the World Trade Center!”

Picture I took at Ground Zero in 2005 on our trip to New York City

At the time, nobody really knew the gravity of the situation because nobody had internet to turn to on their phones, so we carried on with our class. As I arrived at my next class - Microeconomics - I heard that the second tower had been struck as well. I immediately pulled out my cell phone - one that was only used for emergencies as pretty much nobody used cell phones back then - and I called my Mom at work. She told me everything she knew at that point and she told me my Dad had rushed off to work. I knew that meant things were serious because it was his job to be there when any big news broke… he worked at our local newspaper.

Little TVs were rolled in on those now-outdated carts all over campus, and I remember watching in horror in the library at my university seeing the footage of everything unfolding. After my 1 PM class (that ended up being canceled), I headed to my second home - the movie theater, where I worked as an assistant manager. I wasn’t scheduled to work that day, but I wanted to check in with all of my work friends who were like family, because all I wanted was to see that everyone was okay.

We had just hung teaser posters for the new Spider-Man movie that was to come out in early 2002 and the poster contained images of the Twin Towers reflected in Spider-Man’s sunglasses. My coworker had just gotten word from the home office that all posters needed to be taken down and returned to the movie company immediately, and he was in the process of getting them ready to be shipped back.

Later that day, I attended a memorial service at our church with my Mom and brothers. I wore my favorite turquoise wrap top from American Eagle with my favorite gray dress pants, and afterward, we ate at our favorite local diner for dinner, because nobody had the energy to cook, yet we all yearned for something comforting, even though I think we barely touched our food.

The rest of the night was spent with my family, watching hours and hours of footage on the news with Peter Jennings, and wishing my Daddy could be there with us. There was a gaping hole where he was supposed to be sitting, but he had deadlines to deal with and a newspaper to put out. I was 19 years old then and didn’t spend much time with my family because I was a busy teenager with a full-time job and full-time school and loads of friends and a love interest… but there was no other place I would have been but home that night.

That day is probably the single most memorable day of my life (and not in a good way) and I remember every bit of it in vivid detail. I will never ever forget the lives that were lost that day, the first responders who were so brave that day, the immense sadness I felt that day, or the pride that I felt seeing our country come together in the aftermath. So much has changed since then, and I can only pray that we as a nation can eventually find our way back to September 12 again… this time, without the tragedy. #NeverForget

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