September 11, 2001 is to my generation what the shooting of JFK was to my mom’s generation. We remember it. Vividly. We can recall what we were doing when we heard the news. We know where we were at the exact moment the first plane hit the tower. We can still feel the heartbreak as if it just happened yesterday.
It’s fresh. It’s vivid. It’s terrifying and surreal. And it united our country.
In one split second, our country of 314 million people didn’t seem quite so big. When those planes flew into the Twin Towers in downtown New York City on the morning of September 11, 2001, and we realized it wasn’t an accident, but an act of terrorism, we immediately reached out for our neighbor.
In the months that followed that tragic event, now 12 years ago, we prayed for one another. We loved one another. We encouraged one another. We stood behind our President, our military, our local and federal government in a way that we never have before.
We began hearing songs like, “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning” and “Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue” regularly on the radio. The American flag was proudly flown on front porches across the country. People proudly wore American flag t-shirts, and rallied behind anti-terrorism causes.
But then, months went by.
…and here we are, twelve years after that tragic, monumental, and terrifying event that drew a country together, and what are we doing?
Fighting. Beating each other, killing one another, screaming hate speech at one another, pointing blame in every direction but ourselves, bashing our government officials, and treating our military, who risk their lives daily for our safety, as if they are doormats we wipe our boots on.
We are doing anything and everything except loving one another the way God calls us to do.
I remember every detail about September 11, 2001. I was working at a local bank about two miles from my home. I was four months pregnant with my daughter, Marley. Working in the drive-through, I remember hearing a customer come into the lobby, frantically asking us if we had a TV, saying a plane had flown into a building. Our TV was behind a security door in our break room, so customers were not allowed back. That rule quickly went out the window when, only moments later, the second plane hit and we received a call from the Federal Reserve in downtown Atlanta telling us to lock down the bank immediately until further notice.
At that moment, six tellers, two branch managers, and roughly five customers huddled around our tiny TV in our even tinier break room, watching the live footage of downtown New York City. People frantically running away from the towers, screaming, buildings on fire, plane rubble dropping from the tops of the towers to the street below. Black smoke streamed from the windows caused from burning jet fuel.
Then the bodies began to fall. I became nauseous, and had to excuse myself, at which point our branch managers told us to go home for the day but to keep our phones close by.
I received a call from my husband letting me know that he, too, was on his way home, also working for a bank, but his office was in the heart of downtown Atlanta and safety measures were being taken in case an attack happened locally.
What kind of world am I bringing my child into? I thought. I remember feeling sick all day, but refusing to turn off the TV. I cried gallons of tears that day, and in the days that followed.
To this day, I still cry, feeling fresh emotions of sadness, fear, disgust, hate…any time I see the documentaries and conspiracy theories and photographs as we draw closer to yet another anniversary of 9/11.
What about 9/12? Where are those Americans? Where is that anger that we turned into love and support for our fellow man? Where is the encouragement of our military and government? Where are the prayers for our own people?
While my heart still breaks for the victims of the 9/11 tragedy, I long for the emotions and actions of our country in the days and weeks that followed. I want that America back.
Please join me in praying for the future of our country, our government officials, and our military.
God bless America. And God bless you and your family.