Everyone has a story to tell about 9/11/2001. Everyone can tell you exactly where they were, what they were doing, how they heard and the thoughts that raced through their heads. To tell you my story would be redundant. Its the same as a million others.

I drove my husband to work because his car was in the shop. I was parked outside his office waiting for him. I don’t remember why I was waiting. He was getting something in his office and coming back to the car, but I don’t remember why. What I do remember is that it was a beautiful morning. The skies were clear and blue. I had my windows down and the radio on. It was a regular ordinary day. Just like the regular ordinary day that pretty much everyone else was having.

Then a report came over the radio that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. Like just about everyone else, I thought that was pretty spectacular in and of itself and wondered how on earth someone accidentally flew into a skyscraper in New York City! Just before my husband walked out of his building and towards the car there was a report of another plane hitting the World Trade Center.

Like everyone else who heard that news on that morning, I knew in that instant that the world had suddenly changed and would never be the same again. I knew we were under attack.

Everything was as it had always been that morning, and then 9/11 happened.

My husband and I drove back home, we didn’t go into work after that. We felt an urgency to see what was going on. When we turned on the television, we saw what we were fearing, what everyone else was seeing. There was confusion, chaos and more planes in the air and unaccounted for. Like everyone else, we speculated about how many were up there in the sky. How many more will be turned into bombs? Who will be hit? How long will this go on? Those poor people in the planes! Oh my God!! There are people hanging out of those windows above the fire in those skyscrapers. Dear God, help them! Dear God, help us all!

I felt an urgency to talk to my children. They were both in college at the time. There was nothing I could do to protect them, but I needed to hear their voices. I needed to comfort them if I could. I needed to know they were okay. It was inexplicable, but I had to talk with them. I called them both and didn’t reach either of them. They were both already in classes. I woke up my son’s roommate and told him what was happening. I left messages for them to call me back. They eventually did.

I remember I had a business situation I had to attend to. I made the obligatory phone calls with an odd surreal detachment. It seemed strange doing ordinary things on such an extraordinary day. The business at hand had taken on an entirely different meaning. It just wasn’t that important anymore. In light of what was happening in the world, it wasn’t important at all. I wondered if my voice sounded as robotic and disconnected as the voices I talked with on the other end of the phone lines. I suspect it probably did. None of us seemed to particularly think that the business of the day really mattered any more. The world was on fire, people were fighting for their lives in New York, Washington, D.C. and in the skies above Pennsylvania. We were all in shock.

We stared at the television for days on end. I checked the internet for news while I was at work. In disbelief, shock and a morbid curiosity, we watched it all unfold before our eyes in real time. It took a long time to wrap our minds around what had happened. It took even longer to understand the extent to which our world changed in those morning hours of that fateful day.

I can’t remember exactly when the obsession with the events surrounding that day began to ebb away. It happened gradually, I suppose. There wasn’t a particular point in time that I can single out and say that is when my mind started going back to the ordinary things that usually consumed my thoughts and my time.

Even though I don’t think of it as often I did in the beginning, the memories remain. There are horrific images captured in my mind’s eye that I recall whenever I think of the terrorists attacks of September 11, 2001. The work day started on that day and things were pretty much as they had always been …. and then 9/11 happened. It’s a dividing point. Life before 9/11 and life after 9/11.

My life changed on 9/11/2001. I understood at a level I never had before the danger we faced from our enemies in the world. On a more personal level, my son told me he and some friends were heading to New York to help. He was joining the Marines, he told me. We told him to wait, finish school first. Up until then he had been majoring in Fraternity and minoring in Partying at school. Suddenly life was much more serious for him. He joined the ROTC and found his direction. He did finish school and joined the Army as an officer. He has served 15 months in Baghdad, Iraq and has lived outside of the United States for the past five years. I’ve rarely seen him since then. His life changed direction and mine changed because of that.

Our country came together during the days and months following 9/11. We lingered in a national group hug for a brief time. I told my husband that we would have vengeance. He said the warm fuzzy national love fest would be temporary. He said people would forget. I said they wouldn’t. They couldn’t. How could we forget an attack that was the worst ever on American soil? How could we forget an attack that was worse than Pearl Harbor? No, I told him, no, it won’t happen. We’ll remember and there will be a reckoning. No, he said, they’ll forget, they’ll justify, they’ll start making excuses.

He said the farther away we get from 9/11, the more we’ll hear from the sick and cowardly.

I didn’t believe him then.

It turned out that he was right.

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Never Forget