I remember the exact feel of the carved brown chenille fibers. I remember standing there with my hand resting there on the back of my husband’s recliner and being rooted to the spot and the incredible sadness that swept over me at the tragic loss of life. Contrary to what so many claim, I did not immediately realize my country was under attack. That took me a bit longer…long enough for the second plane to hit.
I remember standing there holding the phone as I tried to reach my husband and wondering if this was what the women of 1941 felt when they learned of the attack on Pearl Harbor: this sadness and horror and this incredible core of resolve to do whatever was required as my country went to war without warning. Snippits of FDR’s “day that will live in infamy” speech ran through my head as I watched the world start to unravel on the screen in my living room. Yes, there was some fear of the unknown-yet-to-come, but at that moment it was far outweighed by an unleashed anger that anyone would dare to be so cowardly as to declare war on the innocents in such a fashion.
I remember watching the footage of President Geprge W. Bush in the school and seeing him school his own features and remain seated and calm—though I’m certain his mind was anything but at that moment. I was incredibly proud of him for not creating further trauma in the lives of these children whose world had just been so drastically altered. I wondered if there was some way that he knew of all the prayers for wisdom and protection going up at that moment on his behalf and silently willing him and his advisors to think clearly in spite of all the unknowns of that day.
I’d grown up hearing stories told by people who remembered exactly where they were when JFK was shot and I knew firsthand how it felt to watch Challenger explode on a small screen in my dorm…and then try to go to class on auto-pilot anyway. I never expected this, though. I never expected how the time slowed down as if the world suddenly staggered before righting itself and trying to resume the unresumable course of before. What I did know was that our nation had faced hard times head-on and united before and that we would undoubtedly do so this time.
I remember the surreal feeling of emptying my dishwasher—such a normal task!—while listening to the voices of those who were watching the world on fire out their windows. It has always been my way: get things in order so you’re freed up to do the necessary unexpected. There was no way for me to put things in order on the scale of what was needed, so I prepared my house and prayed as I worked and wondered about our next steps as a nation. No matter what else happened, I was still here, so I pulled out my flag and set it to flying.
Of all the things I thought over the next days and weeks and months, the one thing that never occurred to me was that the world would have so many historical revisionists so quickly. Having such a front-and-center seat to the horror show that was 9/11/2001, should make that an impossibility…and yet they are out there…those trying to make it seem as though we later attacked without provocation and that all the world’s ills can be laid at the feet of this nation. It is not so.
Twelve years ago today, WE were attacked by hate-filled cowards who tried to blame their actions on religion–as if the God of love and mercy and justice needed their twisted assistance for anything.
We survived. We remember. We are still resolved…and our flag is still flying.