It has been 14 years since that day. Think of everything that has happened in your life in these past 14 years. Since that day, I graduated high school, graduated college, got married, had a baby. I’ve lived a life since that day. And yet every September 11 I am still that high school freshman. I’m still that girl who was trying to make friends, thinking I was more adult than I really was. I can’t remember what I had for breakfast last week, but almost every minute of that day is etched forever in my mind. My high school was on a hill that overlooked Manhattan, it was impossible not to see. But then again, the Towers were so grand it would be hard not to see them burning from almost anywhere. I remember the frantic phone calls in a life before iPhone, the crying girls, the confusion. There was no Twitter or Facebook to let us know what was happening in 160 characters or less. We had land lines and desktop computers that still used dial up connections. All we had was each other.
September 11 was one of the worst days in American history, but it is easily the worst day for New Yorkers. I remember in the years that followed any conversations with people not from New York about 9/11 made it painfully clear that nobody could really understand it if you weren’t in New York City when it happened. It’s hard to explain to someone exactly how you felt as a 13 year old girl trying to get home with a cloud of ash behind you and debris floating in your swimming pool when you arrived. It’s a day my father doesn’t talk about. But then again, I have a father who came home when so many people don’t. It is the highest level of tragedy to know of so many people that died that day.
Now that I have Charlotte, I’ve realized that one day she will learn about 9/11. She will ask me and her father about it, and we will both tell her where we were and what we remember. How do you explain something like that to someone you want to protect? I know I have years before it happens, but it makes me think of all the children in my life that didn’t have to live through it but will learn about it. I think of my little cousins, my nephews, my friends children. It is up to us to tell them the stories, to make sure the day is never forgotten, as if it ever could be. But when we tell our children our own personal history with that terrible day, we must share the good with the bad. Tell them about the strangers who went to help at ground zero. Tell them about the American flags that flew from every house. Tell them about the patriotism. Tell them about the search dogs and their handlers. Tell them about the firefighters and police officers who ran in when everyone else was running out. Tell them those heroes especially should never be forgotten, those who gave their life to help others. On that day, ALL lives mattered and let us NEVER forget that. Tell them that in a world so filled with hate, Americans came together with so much love.
“Remember the hours after September 11th when we came together as one to answer the attack against our homeland. We drew strength when our firefighters ran upstairs and risked their lives so that others might live; when rescuers rushed into smoke and fire at the Pentagon; when the men and women of Flight 93 sacrificed themselves to save our nation’s Capitol; when flags were hanging from front porches all across America, and strangers became friends. It was the worst day we have ever seen, but it brought out the best in all of us.”
– Senator John Kerry