There have been many memorials and tributes to the fallen heroes of the 9/11/01 terrorist attack, and viewing these has brought me right back to that day; that minute when my brother-in-law Dennis called and asked if we had seen the plane flying into the Twin Towers in NY.
I turned on the TV, and while we were talking on the phone the second plane hit, making both of us gasp from the sheer magnitude of the horror we were witnessing. That was the moment we realized it was not an accident, it was an intentional attack on America. It was an evil never before seen in our country, at least not in my lifetime. It changed every single person who witnessed it that day, whether they realize it or not.
We watched the TV non-stop for days, trying to comprehend what had happened, how had it happened, and why it happened. I remember feeling at times like I was in an out-of-body experience, for surely it didn’t happen in our beautiful land. It was impossible to go back to normal, because the old normal didn’t fit the daily narrative anymore, a new normal had taken it’s place. One that felt dark and a lot less safe.
The next wave of courage came after the strikes and after the cleanup had begun. That wave required Americans to walk out of the relative safety of their homes, away from their TV sets, and out into the world, again. We had to reclaim our lives by living them again, in spite of the fear. Anyone who has lost a loved one knows that feeling all too well, the first fearful steps back into the world without that person by your side. We all lost our innocence that day, and in the days that followed we learned to navigate life with our newly found, albeit terrifying, knowledge.
But, we did it. We rebuilt our lives and helped each other, because America is the land of the free and the home of the brave. Every single American who stepped out their door to reenter the world had the courage to walk out into a new, unknown landscape and depended on their faith to bolster them when they weakened.
The heroes of 911 will never be forgotten because we can never forget the sacrifices made that day by the rescuers who ran into those infernos: firefighters, police, EMT’s, and others. They and the brave passengers on the planes led us by example to become not only better Americans, but better humans. God bless them and their loved ones. God Bless America!