Saturday, September 09, 2006

Remembering 9/11

Just like previous generations remember where they were when Pearl Harbor was attacked, or when President Kennedy was assassinated, this generation will remember where they were when terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center five years ago.

I was only six when President Kennedy was killed. I remember the nuns at school crying and sending us home early. I remember the television being on constantly and playing "funeral" with my younger sister and my cousins, using our toy box as a coffin. Being so young, it didn't make a great impression on me.

September 11, 2001 was different. In many ways, this event was more horrific than both Pearl Harbor and the Kennedy assassination. We were attacked on our own soil. It wasn't a military attack. It was a cowardly attack on innocent civilians.

I was at work entering police reports into the computer. The phone rang and when I answered it, the wife of one of the police officers told me to turn on the television, that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. In the squad room, the TV was already on, and we watched the events unfold. At the time, most of us thought that it was an accident--that a plane had malfunctioned somehow and hit the tower. No one even considered that it might be deliberate, until we watched a second plane hit the other tower, then the Pentagon and Shanksville.

I don't remember what I thought at the time, other than that things would never be the same. Even in our suburban police department, we took extensive precautions. We locked down the building, installing a temporary phone outside for visitors to call to gain entry to the building. We remained in this lock-down mode for days. Keys to the police cars had always been left in the cars--after all, who would steal a car from a police parking lot? Not any more. We had to worry about terrorists taking the cars and using them as bombs. Even now, the keys are kept in a lock box inside the station.

There were numerous other precautions taken, investigations done, and assistance given by our department to federal agencies involved in preventing more attacks. Before 9/11, our police department had only been concerned about DUIs, drugs, domestics, and traffic violators.
That all changed in one day.

We'd lost our innocence.

After five years, though, complacency has returned. No one thinks about the attacks anymore. I know it's not good to dwell on the tragedy, but we shouldn't forget. For a time, people changed. They cared about each other. They went out of their way to help others. If anything good came out of 9/11, it was that. Maybe with this fifth anniversary, people will not only remember the tragedy, but remember how we all felt afterward. How we were better people for helping our fellow man.

Do you remember where you were and what you were doing on 9/11/2001? Please share. I'd like to hear your story.


Kristine said...

I was at work, reading through press releases when the news came in. Once I realized the magnitude of what had happened, I tried desperately to log onto but couldn't. There was so much traffic the site was shut down.

I had to leave work that morning because we were having bee inspection people come to investigate a problem we were having (seems so trivial now). On the drive home, I listened to news that the towers had fallen.

The bee people never came, and I spent the rest of the day glued to the TV mourning and wondering how life was ever going to be the same again. My deepest fear was that it wasn't. I was right.

By the way, I also watched the CBS special last night and tonight. Brought back a lot of painful memories and opened my eyes.

Anonymous said...

Last week I watched several specials about 9/11. I was actually suprised that folks took the time to remember that day in a special way. Other than all of the usual War on Terror information that we are bombarded with, it seems that over the past five years, we have all gradually become more complacent. If we allow ourselves to continue down that road, one day there will be individuals who deny that 9/11 ever happened, as some people do now regarding the Holocaust. I cannot imagine a greater dishonor to the lives lost and those changed forever than to forget them. However, we must not allow our outrage and anger to fester, and prevent positive changes and goodness to come out of the horrible events of that day. All of us must find a way to come to mutual understanding of one another's positions on important issues, and if we cannot do so, then we must learn to at least respect one another. The most painful thing for me on that day was the realization that someone hated me so much. I belive that was the end of innocence too, Joyce.

Peace and blessings to all,
Your sister, Amy

Joyce said...

I think the main thing I don't understand is why these people hate us. Our country gives them millions upon millions of dollars, all sort of volunteers go over there to help them live better lives, and all they care about is killing us. Where would they be without our help? They don't care. I think if they'd rather live that way, we should let them! There are enough people in this country who need the financial and other assistance. They'd still hate us, but at least our own citizens would be better off.

Mimi said...

Just got time to read your blog, sorry it took so long!

I was at home. I'd called in sick because I hadn't slept all night. I woke up in the middle of the night and was compelled to pray but I didn't know why. This has happened before and Carole said that it's because one of my gifts is that I'm an intercessor.

I was coming down the steps and Mark called from LaGuardia to tell me that a plane had struck one of the towers. I put the TV on and was on the phone with him when the second tower got hit. Shortly thereafter, cell phone service went out and we were disconnected.

Since so many of my friends and coworkers were traveling that week, several to NY, the day was spent making sure that everyone was safe.

The thing I remember most is how quiet it was because the planes were grounded and when the occasional plane did fly overhead to land at the airport, how scared it made me feel.

"Let us never forget" has been a sentiment echoed again and again but I fear that many have forgotten. Forgotten kindness toward others, forgotten patriotism, forgotten how to stand together for what is right.