A few years ago, I wrote a post about this topic for another blog, but the blog has since been discontinued, which is sad, because it’s like losing part of my writing history.
On September 11, 2001, my life was so different. I was a college professor in Virginia. I was dating a guy who lived and worked in the New York City area, so the events of that day hit close to home. I remember I was teaching a class via interactive television when the technician ran into my classroom and switched the channels as we saw the replay of a plane hitting the twin towers. It was and still is so surreal. When the first plane, American Airlines 11, hit, we thought it was an accident. When the second plane, United Airlines 175, hit, we knew. I dismissed class and the college closed, but my students remained glued to the classroom televisions. I made my way to my office and kept trying to call my boyfriend from my cell phone, but my calls would not go through. Finally he called me to tell me he was OK, as was his brother, who worked for Citibank. I was relieved for them, but heartbroken for those who lost their lives and who lost family members and friends. Silly me kept hoping for more miracles than actually happened. To this day, I still cannot believe the magnitude of loss of life.
During the course of that morning and day, we heard about American Airlines flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon, then United Airlines 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania when passengers attempted to gain control of the aircraft after it was hijacked. It was as if the destruction and death would never end. I will never forget this day or its moment in history. I still grieve for those who lost loved ones.
I still remember what it was like to fly after 9/11, how quiet it was when I landed at Dulles instead of National for a required doctoral class at George Mason. I remember seeing the smoldering twin towers from my weekly flights in and out of LaGuardia Airport for what seemed like a very long time after the events of that day.
I also remember the kindness that we shared with strangers after this tragedy. For a while after 9/11, people seemed to care more about each other. I saw more public displays of politeness and affection and less frustration and anger. It still breaks my heart that it took a tragedy like this to make us treat each other with more love and mutual respect than I have ever witnessed in my lifetime.
If there is one thing I could wish for this anniversary of 9/11, it would be for us to return to love, in spite of our differences, and in honor of all the lives that were lost that day.
Photo Credit: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/