This past weekend, television helped us remember 9-11, not that the day fifteen years ago isn’t imprinted on our memories. As with most tragedies, we know exactly where we were when we heard the news. I was in my doctor’s office waiting for the mammogram technician. I’d brought a book (as usual). While I was reading, I became aware that a news report was coming through the intercom. What I was hearing didn’t make sense. The tech came in, and we expressed the same confusion. Then the report said another plane had hit the second tower.
Stunned, I couldn’t wait to get home and watch television. A message beeped on our answering machine. Hubs had called saying turn on the TV. I already had. Confusion, fear, horror. I tried to make sense of what had happened. I couldn’t.
I remember being so upset (what a wimpy word) for days that I couldn’t write, couldn’t even read messages from online groups. I couldn’t understand why this event affected me so. I lived in the Midwest, nowhere near Manhattan. But for days I felt like I was in a fog. I watched news shows to learn more. I needed an explanation. A reason for this horrific act.
When I finally went back online, I realized I wasn’t alone. Others felt the same way. There was comfort in that knowledge.
I’d been to New York City three times before 9-11. I went back in 2003 (for a conference) and noticed the difference. The police were everywhere, yet not in a threatening manner. You could tell they were alert despite their casual stances. People were friendlier, including restaurant servers, their storied rudeness replaced by smiles and helpfulness.
For years, I couldn’t watch the remembrances. Too soon. Too raw. I still haven’t watched the movie World Trade Center. Again, too soon. Now I watch the programs on the anniversaries. I don’t want to forget. I imagine my parents felt the same way about December 7th. My grandchildren were born after 9-11. We should make sure they, their generation, and generations to come never forget we were attacked on our home soil. Not by a nation or a religion, but by narrow-minded extremists, fanatical suicide bombers more deadly than those that attacked Pearl Harbor.
Many things changed afterward. Heightened security, especially at airports. Fear paralyzed us, but not for long. Quickly, we learned that giving into anxiety played into the hands of the terrorists. They would win again. As a nation, we proved our resilience. We went back to work, went on vacations, carried on our daily routines. We might (and should) be more alert, but we weren’t cowed by the attack.
We are survivors.
|credit: Alamy stock photo|