Fifteen years have passed quickly, but the memory of September 11th is still as close as yesterday. It was a catastrophically sad and devastating day to watch, live, and remember. Many people that lived through it, would rather not talk about what they saw or the feelings felt. For some though it is helpful and there is a peace and learning in sharing our stories. Technology has allowed us to view in live time. We are able to events that are miles if not timelines away. September 11th should always be remembered, and stories told to those who did not live through it. As Pearl Harbor was to the generation before, so the events of September 11th are forever a part of a certain generations decisions, future plans, and appreciation of the present.
On September 11th, I had just started my second of year law school in Washington, D.C. It was an indisputable beautiful day. Crystal clear sky and full sunshine, the air was completely free of the humidity and heat of summer and the temperature as perfect as an early autumn day can be. With no classes scheduled that September morning, I had volunteered to take a friend to drop her car off for a routine service.
An early riser, I woke up and turned on the news to wait for her. The television was turned on, and I half listened as we do in the morning expecting the dependable voices of the weather and traffic reporters. Instead I could hear panic and uncertainty and soon the music of breaking in national news. I looked up and saw a plane that had hit one of the towers and watched the news break. My first instinct was to call my mother, as she was born in New York and had many relatives residing there, including many that were on the FDNY and one relative I knew worked in the tower.
Staying together on the phone we both watched the horror of the morning unfold, until my brother called telling me he thought I should leave Washington. My friend who's parents lived in Florida, likewise were ordering to leave our house near the Pentagon, and go to a farther place. She asked how much I was packing, and the reality of the day had not yet been processed. Still in my thoughts, was that I needed to go to law school the next day, and did not yet comprehend the great unknown and uncertainty of what was to come. We drove down the street past the offices, with complete strangers coming up to every car driving by and knocking frantically asking each passing car to please take them out of Washington, without a care of where that might be. Everyone was seeking some sense and place of safety.
I lost my relative that worked in one of the towers that day. He was wonderful father and husband and a hard worker. An accountant who I am certain thought the day would be routine when he left his home that morning. Returning back to law school was like a returning to a different environment entirely. Professors openly voiced whether they should continue in the law or do something different with their life. Some students dropped out, others changed their tracks from corporate to public service. Priorities were changed, and life as we knew it the Monday before no longer existed.
Life did go on the next morning the sun rose with same brilliance as the day before. I dropped my friend off at a metro stop so she could go to work the next morning as the President had encouraged us all to do. We watched a still burning Pentagon standing and silent people filing into offices still numb with shock, but with a purpose to keep going for those that could not. We as a nation all stood up high with hands held reassuringly at every ceremony. We are a nation that endured a great tragedy and felt immense sadness, but we are strong. As the years pass there are new generations born without the memory of that day held within them. We must always learn from the past. That morning in September taught an entire generation that we are resilient and must continue to raise our flag each day respecting the past and hoping for the future.