Ten years ago today I awakened with my oldest daughter, then a year-and-a-half old, started her breakfast and strewed a load of laundry to fold across my living room floor. I turned on the tv and switched it to the Today show just in time to see a plane crash into the south tower of the World Trade Center. Within just a few seconds I understood that the land of the free and the home of the brave was under attack by faceless and nameless killers. I grabbed the phone and called my best friend. Turn on the news! Planes have crashed into the World Trade Center buildings! We're under attack! I don't remember much more of the conversation as I'd begun to see people falling from the top floors. Then came the news of the Pentagon crash, followed closely by the tragedy of United Flight 93.
Tears streamed down my face, and I held my daughter tightly. I was no different than anyone else that day as fear gripped our nation. Of course, I lived in small-town Alabama, and the threat of an attack was almost non-existent. But my country, without warning, had been almost paralyzed with fear. There was almost nothing on tv except news coverage for days. Even some of my daughter's favorite tv stations had gone off air. The entire nation was in shock. And we mourned for the lives of fellow citizens we didn't even know.
Over the past couple of weeks I've been watching shows recounting the events of that dreadful day. I've cried as survivors shared their stories. A lump has formed in my throat every time I've remembered people falling and jumping to avoid death by fire. I never get used to watching the collapse of two monstrosities that were never supposed to collapse. Every time I've seen a replay of the towers falling, I've been instantly transported back to the spot where I stood amongst laundry on my living room floor. The feeling of horror is the same every time.
Today, ten years later, the bravery of the 9/11 firefighters and rescue workers amazes me just as much as it did back then. Today the stories of human kindness told of that day still make me proud of my fellow Americans. Today I will remember the courage of ordinary, extraordinary people. Today I will take time to remember what my country endured. Today I will thank God for the bravery of men and women who continue to fight for freedom. Today I will hope for a better future for my children. Today I will love a little more intentionally. Today, and for the remainder of my days, I will not forget.