Remembering September 11th means different things to different people.
My memory isn’t what it used to be. I’m sure that sounds like such an “older person” thing to say, but it’s true. Certain things just aren’t recalled as easily these days.
There are memories that I’m sure I’ll never forget, though:
- hearing my name announced when I won my first spelling bee.
- the butterflies in my stomach on my wedding day.
- holding each of my children for the very first time.
- crossing the finish line after running my first marathon… as well as the soreness my entire body experienced the week after. (Hence, why I only run half-marathons now.)
And I’ll never forget what I was doing on September 11, 2001.
Similar to so many of my happier unforgettable memories, I think this day will be forever etched in my mind. Memories of immense tragedy and heartbreak are hard to shake.
I remember being in my 9th grade social studies class. We were watching the Space Shuttle Challenger launch along with the rest of the world. The excitement that had filled the air that morning was quickly replaced by terror and confusion. The look of shock and sadness in my teacher’s face is one I will never forget. I’ll never forget the confusion and fear I felt.
The memories of September 11, 2001 occupy my heart and mind in a similar way.
A regular morning.
I was a stay-at-home mom in 2001, with her first and only child a month and a half away from celebrating his first birthday. I’d celebrated my first “official” Mother’s Day several months earlier.
There was no library storytime, play date with a friend, or errands to run that morning. So we were home, just hanging out before Gabe’s mid-morning nap. It was a regular Tuesday morning… until it wasn’t.
“Have you seen the news?”
My mother-in-law phoned me, and she sounded pretty shaken up.
The television set in my living room came on, and stayed on for hours that morning. I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I’ve visited these buildings several times over the years. How could this be happening? What is even happening, and why?
The crash was an accident. It had to be. My mind jumped quickly to try and make sense of things to reassure myself. And then a plane crashed into the second building. I remember watching it as it happened. My eyes struggled yet again to believe what they were seeing.
Terror. That’s what I and so many people in this country felt on that day.
I remember that for a brief period in the middle of all this commotion, it was unknown if all major downtown areas were being targeted. That was of special concern to me, because my husband found himself in downtown Miami quite a bit with the job he had at the time.
“Have you heard the news? Are you downtown?”
He was safe, along with everyone in my immediate family. But thousands of others weren’t on that day.
In the days, weeks, months, and now so many years that have followed, every new piece of information, every related news report or article triggers my remembering September 11th, along with my memories of that morning so many years ago.
It’s been 22 years. Wow, just typing that right now really hit me. The soon-to-be one-year-old is now a soon-to-be 23-year-old.
On September 11th of each year, I try to set aside time to remember what was lost, as well as what was learned. I don’t quite understand the connection, but there’s something healing about remembering that helps us move forward.
“Despite our shared grief in the aftermath of 9/11, hope, resilience, and unity lifted us up as a nation. Twenty years later, these lessons are more important than ever.” (National September 11 Memorial & Museum, 2021)
While I don’t know what my memories of this day will look like 20 years from now, I pray that honor and healing will always be a part of my remembering September 11th.
Updated September 2023