There is always the struggle of how to handle today. The question of what is the proper way to commemorate such a pivotal moment in our history is daunting. Do you spend the day in silence? Do you have a special prayer? A special dinner? Or do you carry on as you usually would as a way of saying “Our hope cannot be stolen”? There are so many moments that have become ingrained in our memories. Moments we will never forget. Moments that changed the very fabric of our country. Moments that changed our lives. Everyone remembers where they were when the Challenger exploded. Where they were when our President was shot. And where they were when the Towers fell.
When I go back to that morning, I just always remember how beautiful it was. It seemed like the air was perfectly crisp, the sky was the most perfect shade of blue, and not one cloud to be seen. I don’t remember what the sky looked like the day before, but I remember actually stopping and noticing how blue and clear it was on September 11. Almost as if that small moment of peace was one I was meant to remember and cling to in the days and months and years to come. And I do. Even today, I look outside at the blue sky and I think back to the moment I stopped that morning and noticed how beautiful it was.
Life is completely different now. Twelve years ago yesterday, we all lived in a blissful state of oblivious naivety. We were strong and powerful. We were unstoppable. We were unchallenged. Twelve years ago today, that state of bliss, that naivety, that ignorance, was ripped from our hands. Suddenly, everything was frantic, frenzied, frightening. That day our blissful ignorance became uncertainty. Panic. Terror.
Today, I live in a world that is much different from my pre-9/11 world. War is a term used daily. I’ve seen friends deployed. Watched them weep over the horror they’ve seen. I have friends who lost loved ones in those towers. But as much as I think of what I’ve seen, of what I remember, I also am left to think of what my children never saw. Of the world they never knew. My children never got to see those towers shining against the blue sky in the morning. They never got to see them glow over the city at night. They never got to know what it meant to “walk someone to the gate”. They will never know what life was like before 1 oz containers and ziplock baggies became the norm for travelers.
My children are the Post 9/11 generation. Sadly, now we all are. Our lives are forever altered, ever changing in a world that seems so volatile. When I think of all the things my children will never be able to remember of life before that terrifying day, I am left with the realization that I cannot let them forget. No they weren’t born yet, but that simply means the responsibility falls on me – it is my duty to make sure that my children know the loss that occurred; the day that left no man, woman, or child unaffected. It is my responsibility to make sure they remember the day that no one cared about black or white or about how big your house was. All anyone knew that day was that we’d been hit – a sucker punch that left us reeling with questions of why, and answers that may never suffice. But most importantly, it is my job to make sure that my children know hope. They will never see the world the way I saw it before 9/11/01 – they only know life as it is now, twelve years later. But I can’t let them forget the moment that changed everything, and the hope and strength that brought our nation together – even if only for a brief moment in time. That we are still alive, we are still strong, and that we still have hope.
Life has gone on since that day. It’s cruel that way; it’s comforting that way. But the events of that day? They will never go away. It has not ended for anyone who was alive twelve years ago. And it won’t. It is now part of our DNA – our United States History. It is part of your story, and it is part of mine. So today, let us remember those precious souls who were taken from us – the lives who were tragically cut short. And the families that live on. Let their memories inspire us to hope. And let that hope make us strong.