This weekend, while watching 9/11 coverage, my six year old Hayden asked me what I was watching. Time seemed to freeze when he asked me that. It was as somber of a moment as I can remember.
It was the first time I realized that it all happened 4 years before he was born, 2 years before I was married. To him 9/11 was just another day. I told him the story of men who flew planes into buildings to kill Americans. He said what many of us have said: “why in the world would anyone want to do that?” To that I told him, “because there is evil in the world.”
I also told him about brave Americans who risked their lives to save others. Men and women who ran into burning buildings while everyone else was running out. Men and woman who fought with their lives to bring down their own airplane to save others.
I remember 10 years ago this morning. I sat in the hall way at Florida Community College in Jacksonville with my then girlfriend, now wife, waiting for our classes to start. A few minutes before class, someone walked in and said that a plane had hit a one of the World Trade Center towers. Everyone thought: “wow, what a horrible accident.”
Claire went to her dance class and I went into my humanities class. After being in class a few minutes, someone came in late and said “another plane hit the other tower.” Everyone thought they must have been mistaken, how could two planes have the same accident? Shortly after, an all school announcement was made that classes were dismissed and everyone was instructed to go home.
No one really knew what was going on at this point. Claire’s class had a TV but the signal was not coming in clear. When we got back to the car, we turned on the radio (690AM WOKV) and started to hear the coverage. Two planes had in fact his each of the towers and it was believed at this point that we were under attack. We sat in the parking lot, waiting for traffic to clear and didn’t know what to think or what to feel. I remember the radio announcer saying: “It is now believed, that America is under attack.” A chill went down my spine.
We left school and headed to my mom’s house and the next thing I remember is turning on the TV and seeing the first tower begin to fall. We just stood speechless and watched. There were no words for the images on the screen. Like something out of a movie, and “independence day” like scene, except it was real.
I remember saying a lot of prayers that day and trying to put faith in the fact that even in these unbelievable times, God is in control.
In the days and weeks to come, the thing I remember most vividly was the attitude in the country. It was no longer left versus right, white versus black, gay or straight, north or south. We were just Americans and we were united.
Yes, let us never forget that there is evil in the world. Let us never forget that war was brought to us in a brutal way. But also let us never forget the spirit of America. Let us remember that we will accomplish much more together than we will divided.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”