Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Remember

I slept in that day, because I had forgotten to set my alarm. Had I set it, I would have woken up to NPR coverage of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center (I was living in CO at the time, and was 2 hours behind the east coast). But instead I woke up, rolled over to see the time, panicked, and raced into the shower. When I got out of the shower and was walking back to my room to get dressed, I checked my cell phone and saw that I had missed multiple phone calls from my co-worker. I called her back as I picked out my outfit.

"What's up?" I asked casually.

"Have you turned on your TV today?"

"No - I forgot to set my alarm, and now I'm racing around trying to..."

"We're under attack."

"What? What do you mean?"

"The World Trade Center got hit by a plane... and then another plane... turn on your TV."


"Oh my God."

"I talked with [Executive Director] and we agreed that we will all still work today. We have to decide if we still want to go through with our event on Friday."

"Wow... yes... of course."

"So come in when you can. There's a TV in the office downstairs so we can keep tabs on what's going on."

Standing there, watching in disbelief, I saw the South Tower fall. And just before I left for work, I saw the North Tower fall as well.

Ten years later as I see the video footage of that day, I am brought back to my basement apartment in Colorado. Standing in my towel, wet hair dripping on the carpet, watching an unfathomably horrible tragedy play out on my television screen.

Today I pray for peace for the victims and their families - on this anniversary and every day. I pray for the people of the United States of America, that this anniversary might remind us all of our interconnectedness - that we might all be encouraged to reach out to our fellow human beings, just as we did in the days following the attacks, rather than focusing on our differences.

I came across this today. It is a letter written by Ian Adelman to his friends and family the afternoon of September 11, 2001.

"On one hand, it is amazing to see people looking out for one another as everything appears to fall apart around them, but it is deeply saddening to think that it takes this kind of catastrophe to get people to overlook petty concerns and just be kind to those around them. The saddest thing is that while we'll all remember the physical event-- most of us won't be able to remember the way we felt. If only people could hang on to that feeling of common ground with nearby strangers that such a disaster instills. If we could somehow keep that in our emotional memory, we'd be better equipped to move forward--whether in the context of a local community, a nation, or a planet."

And because I am never one to miss an opportunity to reference The West Wing, here are some incredibly poignant words spoken by President Bartlet, regarding an attack on a college campus:

"We did not seek nor did we provoke an assault on our freedom and our way of life. We did not expect nor did we invite a confrontation with evil. Yet the true measure of a people's strength is how they rise to master that moment when it does arrive. 44 people were killed a couple of hours ago at Kennison State University. Three swimmers from the men's team were killed and two others are in critical condition. When, after having heard the explosion from their practice facility, they ran into the fire to help get people out. Ran *in* to the fire. The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels tonight. They're our students and our teachers and our parents and our friends. The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels, but every time we think we have measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and we're reminded that that capacity may well be limitless. This is a time for American heroes. We will do what is hard. We will achieve what is great. This is a time for American heroes and we reach for the stars. God bless their memory, God bless you and God bless the United States of America. Thank you."

God bless the memory of all those lost on 9/11. And God bless the United States of America.