Ten years ago, I was still not fully aware that my computer nerd tendencies could provide a living so I was selling insurance to pay the bills. I usually woke up, showered and put on most of my clothes, and then ironed my shirt in the living room as I watched the news. The news of the day was typically something about robberies, maybe a shooting, and your typical feel-good piece to help drive ratings. Unfortunately, there was nothing “feel-good” about what I was about to witness on my TV.
I remember turning on my television a few moments after the first plane struck the first of the towers. There was no Twitter back then, and the Internet was still young, so details were sketchy at best. Some were saying that it was a missile that struck the building, others said that it was just a horrible accident, but nobody was really sure as to what had actually transpired. I was watching the TV with mild interest, wondering to myself what was truly happening when I saw it: an airplane flew right into the second tower! I dropped everything and was glued to the screen in front of me. I had never in my life witnessed such horror.
I eventually managed to pull myself away from the TV and drove myself into work, but nothing productive was accomplished. In fact, nothing productive was accomplished that entire week because everyone was glued to their televisions trying to find out what had actually happened, who was responsible, and who we were going to bomb as payback. People were scared, sad, and angry all at the same time. Our country had been sucker punched and, as a result, we were rocked to our very core.
I don’t think that I was any different than the majority of Americans. Every free moment of my time was spent watching the 24-hour news channels in hopes of getting more information. Like so many others, I was afraid that we would be hit again and I wanted revenge on those who did this to us. And even though I didn’t personally know anybody who lost their life that day, I mourned the loss of so many who were just going about their business on that September day.
It has been said that each generation has its defining moment. For my grandparents, it was the attacks on Pearl Harbor. For my parents, it was the assassination of JFK. For me, it was 9/11. My innocence was violated that morning by a colossal act of evil that caused a fundamental change within me. I no longer took my country for granted because I now knew how easily she could be brought to her knees. This realization also caused me to have a new respect for my country because I soon learned that despite being hit with an unmistakable act of war, America doesn’t stay down for long and punishment was swift and severe.
We have since moved on. We had to because life goes on despite tragedy, despite evil, despite war. Some of us don’t fully understand what transpired that day because we don’t teach it to our children. Some of us have forgotten, either due to the passage of time or because it was the only way to move on. Some of us though will never forget. The horrors that day were too terrible to allow us to let down our guard and push the memories away. I am one who will never forget. I still mourn the loss of lives. I still honor the memories of those who died trying to save others. I still remember.