Nine years ago, today, I was babysitting a neighbor’s baby boy. I was trying to rock him to sleep, and had the tv on, muted. CNN was the channel, and I remember thinking, as I saw the first tower smoking, “Why are they playing a movie on CNN? That is weird.”
I turned the sound on, and realized that it was real. The second plane hit, and my jaw dropped.
I remember the confusion, the chaos, the images of people running ash-covered and coughing from Ground Zero.
I remember Levi coming home for lunch at about the same time the Pentagon was hit, just across the river from our base.
Of course, he was called right back into work to help with around-the-clock security work.
I remember my mom finally being able to get a hold of us through the jammed phone lines, crying and fearful until she heard we were just fine.
I remember the mother of the baby I watched being panic-stricken because her husband was working at the Pentagon, and I remember the relief when he finally called to let her know he was okay.
I remember seeing members of Congress belting out “God Bless America” on the steps of the Capitol building.
I remember the “Honk if you love the USA” signs and bumper stickers.
I remember the blanketing of our country with flags, flags, flags everywhere.
I remember our nation coming together for a few short weeks before the bitter disagreements kicked in again.
I remember being a newlywed, wondering what kind of world I would be bringing my children into – who were as yet unthought of.
I remember crying when we finally had the final tally on the number of lives lost. So many in one short day.
I remember the courage and dedication of those who worked tirelessly, giving up their very health, in order to help clean up Ground Zero and rescue any survivors. Or recovering the bodies of those who didn’t make it out.
I remember being “one nation, under God” again. For a little while.
I will never forget where I was, or what I was doing that day nine years ago.
I hope that none of us ever do.