A Remembrance Of That Awful Day

This past Friday I was speaking with one of my co-workers about the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, someone we both admired. We talked about how she had been the only Queen we had known all our lives. We talked about the things we remembered about her and since September 11th was only a couple of days away, I mentioned seeing the Guard at Buckingham Palace play the Star Spangled Banner at her request, the day after the September 11th attacks. Just talking about that moment had tears brimming in my eyes as they did my co-worker. Even writing about it has me feeling a little choked up.

Seeing as today is the 21st anniversary of That Awful Day, I thought it fitting that I replace my usual Sunday post with this remembrance.

I have to start with saying that until September 11th, I never understood the folks who had experienced the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 saying that they remember exactly where they were when they heard the news, remembered their feelings on that day. The one thing that so many of them said that to them, it hadn’t happened ‘x’ years ago, but ‘yesterday’.

On September 12th, 2001, I understood what they meant. In the 21 years since That Awful Day I know exactly what they meant when they said it didn’t happen all those years ago. To me That Awful Day happened yesterday.

Twenty one years later when I see the Twin Towers on an old TV show or movie I catch my breath. I flash back to That Awful Day, remembering exactly where I was when I first heard of a plane hitting the North Tower and the subsequent report of another plane hitting the South Tower. I remember watching TV as the towers fell. I remember seeing the report of a plane hitting the Pentagon and another crashing in the town of Shanksville, Pennsylvania. I remember my pager going off again and again and again as I was called in to our state’s Office of Emergency Management. (I was a staff member back then.) I remember the faces of the people in my workplace and the Emergency Management office.

It was yesterday.

Over the years we have heard the stories of the heroes, both individuals and groups, who did amazing things to help the people they didn’t know under daunting circumstances. But it is those stories that have been a silver lining on an otherwise horrific and horrifying day. It is something that when the memories and feelings start weighing me down, I watch this story, one that exemplifies the selflessness of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. It allows me to see the good things that happened on That Awful Day.