The phone rang, and I turned back to see who it was. It was my best friend Terri, whom we were to meet at SeaWorld with her boys. Her voice was almost unintelligible, and that in itself scared me because Terri wasn’t one to fall to pieces.
“Turn on the TV!” She kept saying. “Turn on the TV!”
I did, still holding my bag over my arm with our picnic lunch packed inside.
There was chaos on the screen. A burning building. Something about a plane crash. The World Trade Center. The Twin Towers. Even the newscasters seemed confused as to what had really happened.
I had a 16″ television set at the time, but that screen filled the whole room that day. I pulled up a chair and watched first in bewilderment and then in horror as the events unfolded before our eyes. Tragedy after tragedy, compounding upon each other as the whole country struggled to comprehend what was going on.
My country was being attacked. Someone had declared war on us in the most cowardly of ways. Someone meant for all these people to die. It was unthinkable.
The world as I had known it had changed.
I was on the phone with a close friend at Disney relating the events since they had no television in the office when the supervisors came through the hallways telling them to go home.
Disney was closing.
This may sound trivial to some, but to others who have been Cast Members, I am sure you can relate. That announcement brought what was happening home for me. This wasn’t something in some far off place, some far off city, or even a city a few states away.
Disney. Doesn’t. Close.
This meant the threat was HERE, whatever the threat was. I only thought I was scared before. Suddenly, my world was not only changed; it was no longer safe.
I held my three-year-old and prayed and cried. I tried to shield him from the screen, from my fears, my tears. But nothing could shield all of us from the pain and suffering that day had wrought. And the fear of not knowing if it was over. If there was more to come.
So much has happened in the twelve years since that day. So many wars and conflicts and fights and battles. So many lives lost. So many families ripped apart. So many people still recovering from that day and its continuing aftermath. Physically, emotionally, financially.
That three-year-old is now a fifteen-year-old who does not know a world without color-coded terror levels, airport security X-rays, and daily headlines of terrorist attacks.
It still makes no sense to me. I don’t understand the motivation. I don’t understand the reasoning. And I probably never will.
Our citizens pulling together and praying together. Our neighbors and friends supporting, loving, giving. Our first responders and our soldiers fighting, protecting, trying, sacrificing, risking, giving all they have.
From my little tiny parking space here on the internet, I lift up my little tiny voice in the world to join with so many others today in remembrance. And though I lift my voice, I bow my head.
I bow my head in gratitude and respect to the responders who gave their lives on that day and in the years since from the complications of working in those conditions. To the soldiers who have fought and continue to fight to protect our country, our freedom, and the freedom of others across the globe. And to the families of those responders and soldiers who have sacrificed and continue to sacrifice for the greater good.
I am proud and honored to be an American. I am filled with gratitude that I live in the United States of America and that we are still free. Flawed, but free.
9-11-01. Never forget. Never stop thanking and being grateful. Never stop helping others. Never stop looking forward with hope. Never stop praying for peace.