Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Eleven Years Ago

I had quite a debate with myself about whether or not to post anything today.  It seems that in the eleven years since the World Trade Center was attacked everything that can be said has been said.  Repeatedly.  It doesn’t seem that I could possibly have anything meaningful to add.  However, posting anything else today seems a little…shallow, selfish, or just ill-mannered.  How do you ignore something like what happened eleven years ago? 

I was curious as to what approach my fellow bloggers would take today: would everyone post their memories of where they were, post some sort of tribute for the first responders, or just keep quiet?  In perusing blogs today it seems that most people are choosing to keep quiet, though I have come across a few folks sharing their memories of where they were on September 11, 2001.

As I’ve sat here reading other people’s memories of that day, with a clear view from my office window of lowered flags, it occurs to me how connected we all are.  We may not agree on politics, religion, or much of anything these days, but we’re all deeply affected by what happened that day.  We all grieve for the people who died that day, and the families left behind.  We all know what we were doing on a day that, under different circumstances, would likely have faded into thousands of other days. 

Instead of asking where you were, or what you were doing when you first heard the news, I’d like to know how your perspective of what happened has changed over the years, or if it has changed at all.

I think my perspective on what happened has changed a lot over the years.  I was 19 years old when I watched the second plane hit.  I grew up in a very small town.  It took a while for me to even grasp the enormity of what had happened; the biggest office buildings I had seen were maybe five stories.  I thought my parents and grandparents were being a little dramatic whenever they talked about things like knowing exactly what they were doing when Kennedy was shot.  I couldn’t imagine an event that didn’t personally involve you making such a lasting impression on your life.  Now I know exactly what they meant all those years. 

I had no idea that eleven years later I would be married to a man who volunteers as a firefighter.  At 19 I thought about how brave the first responders who died were, how their families at least had the comfort of saying that they died heroes.  Now I can’t imagine how their families felt.  I don’t want to; just thinking about it makes my stomach drop and my heart feel like it’s stuck in the back of my throat.  I can’t imagine the agony of waiting; of knowing a loved one was there and not knowing if they were okay. 

I think a lot about the families, and how their grief has been intruded upon.   I can’t imagine what the families have felt like for the past eleven years with the entire nation watching them on every anniversary.  I used to hope for some sort of retaliation for them, something to make it alright, but now I think that nothing can ever make that kind of loss alright.  Now I hope for them to be allowed to grieve and remember in whatever way is best for them.  I hope they’ve somehow been able to put their lives back together. 

I also think about how kind people were that day: you heard stories of people handing out bottled water, giving people rides home, helping other people try to find loved ones.  People cried and grieved for strangers.  We were nice to each other.  People set aside differences and realized that we’re all human beings. 


  1. So much good stuff in this post, Danielle, so I'll focus on the following:

    "I thought my parents and grandparents were being a little dramatic whenever they talked about things like knowing exactly what they were doing when Kennedy was shot."

    I know the feeling. Now I tell my kids the exact details and my feelings on that day. My oldest was 7, so she has her own memories to share.

  2. I felt tremendously sad that day. Sad that people could do such things to each other. Nothing has changed in that respect. The memory of the event just brings sadness..discouragement..a feeling of hopelessness.

  3. I didn't used to think so much about how short life is, how it can be over in a second. Now I do, and September 11 played a large part in my change of perspective. Maybe that sounds cheesy—I don't know—but watching what happened and thinking about all the people who lost their loved ones on a day that should have been like any other... Well, that made me sit up and take notice.

  4. Very nice post. 9-11 struck me very hard, being that my husband was career Air Force. What has changed for me over the years is how divided and angry we have become since then. We have forgotten how quickly it could all be taken away again. The human heart is fickle. I wrote a post about 9-11 yesterday, b/c ultimately I want to remember that, no matter how awful we treat each other, God will judge us and set things right. We will ALL be held accountable. God bless your firefighter husband.

  5. Very touching - this was an extremely hard time to live through for so many, and I still struggle every year at the anniversary. Well done post.

    I have passed on an award to you - come by to check it out.

  6. we just never know...so always be good.


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