I woke up early that morning. I walked up the hill to the University of Arkansas to check my e-mail and print out a study guide for a test I was having later that week. As I walked into the Student Union, I immediately was drawn to RZ's Coffee Shop, which was packed with people, and had people flowing out the doorway into the hall. I couldn't figure out what was going on, so I asked someone why everyone was packed into RZ's. The guy just pointed his finger at the TV set up in the corner of the coffee shop. That's when it happened. A second plane crashed into the World Trade Center...live...right before my eyes.
I frequented RZ's quite often, and was drawn to the liveliness that was typically found there. On this day however, everyone's breath stopped. Nobody spoke. Nobody moved. We all stood there, our mouths opened, and our hearts dropped into our stomachs.
I went to the couch and sat down and immediately called my mom. She had just turned the TV on and had seen the news. At this point, nobody knew if there was a malfunction with the air traffic controls, or if it was merely an accident. Terrorist attack? That never crossed our minds.
I headed to my Psychology class, my head hung down. My heart was sad for the loss of the lives that had taken place. As I sat down next to my friend Stormy, he told me that yet another plane had hit the Pentagon. He told me they thought it was terrorists. I began to fear for my family, for my friends, and for my country. A feeling of helplessness came over me and all I could do was cry.
My second class was canceled as my teacher was supposed to be at a meeting at the Pentagon that morning. Lucky for him...he got stuck in traffic that morning. He missed the plane crash by 15 minutes. The airliner flew over his taxi as he sat and watched, the building he should be in fill with smoke and debris.
My roommate and I spent the rest of the day in our dorm room. We filled our cars up with gas and made a quick trip to the store for necessities. Our country was under attack and we had no idea when it would end. We listened to the coverage on the radio, and watched the news until we couldn't take anymore in the common area of our dorm. People were jumping out of buildings, people were on fire, people were running from the buildings covered in smoke and debris. It was too much.
My heart has never been the same. Anytime I hear 9/11...see an American Flag...see the words "Let's Roll"...hear "God Bless America"...or see NY FD memorabilia, my heart hurts.
Flash forward 8 years
I woke up early this morning. My kids woke up too early. Peyton was fussy and Brody was hungry. Babies changed, fed, and the TV turned on. This time however, it was not to the news station. It was turned to Noggin. Just another day.
I signed onto Facebook and realized...it's the anniversary. My heart hurt once again. I felt guilty for having Noggin turned on. I felt like I should be remembering better. I felt like I should be watching the coverage of the anniversary tributes on TV. Not Oswald. Then I realized...my children have no idea the significance of today. They are so innocent and have never had to witness the evil in the world that I, and so many others witnessed that day.
While I fully intend to teach them to remember those who lost their lives that tragic day, I am going to cherish their innocence as long as I can. And pray. Pray every day that they never have to see anything like 9/11 again in their lifetime.
I will always remember.