I was single then, dating Morgan, but not even yet engaged. That would come at Christmas that same year. It was a beautiful almost-fall day, not at all unlike the one we're having here in North Carolina today. I was but 25 years old, and my generation had been lucky. We were children of the 80s, living the good life, and not having much worry over international relations. Our parents knew well the fears of the Cold War, of air raid drills, and the threat of nuclear annihilation. But us? We were born in the 70s, growing up in the great 1980s, and, we thought Russia was our biggest threat.
I remember that when I was in ninth grade, the principal came over the loudspeaker to announce that Operation Desert Storm was underway, but at that point in my life, it didn't cause me much concern. I lived in America. We were strong. We could not be harmed.
But then, years later, that all changed. An attack on U.S. soil - the unthinkable. I was working at IBM, and not long after I got to work, we heard the report of the first plane hitting the North tower of the World Trade Center. Like most everyone else, it didn't occur to me that it could be anything other than an accidental plane crash. But then the second plane hit, and ,oh my gosh, it was like, what the hell is happening here?
We were given the option to leave work, which we all did. Who could work when our beloved nation was under attack? I had my own apartment, but I didn't want to be alone. I came to Morgan's house, and we stayed glued to the news all day, just like the rest of the nation. My office was not far from the airport, and I remember driving to Morgan's, fearing the worst. If planes were crashing into the Twin Towers, into the Pentagon, what was going to keep them from crashing into other cities?
My sister and her husband were living in Manhattan at the time of the attack. Laura was at home that day, but Larry was heading to work, and his office was not far from the WTC area. It was hours before she heard from him - remember how cell service was down due to so many calls that day? I can't imagine the fear she felt, and then the relief after she finally reached him. They moved from Manhattan not long after the attack - it was just too stressful to be there. I think it was sort of the feeling that you can't go home again - not literally, of course, but just in that the city that they had loved was never the same again.
I will never, ever forget that horrible day, nor will I forget stories that came out of it. There were so many heroes that day, so many people who put others' lives before their own. Remember the earthquake in Haiti a few years back? I heard someone ask a minister "Where is God in this earthquake?" The minister had a response that I love. He said, "God isn't in the earthquake itself, but in the response." That was true of 9/11 as well. The heroic acts of everyday people - that was where we saw God in 9/11.
I still can't watch some of the footage without tearing up. I can't hear the stories of the heroes without feeling deep sadness. And in this election year, I wish we could remember the way we mourned as a nation, not as Republicans or Democrats. On that day, and in the weeks that followed, we were all Americans, united in love for our country.