It’s Been Ten Years
I’m pretty sure that the reality of September 11, 2001 still hasn’t sunk in for me. I don’t feel like I’ve processed the information. I still feel like I’m missing something despite doing the things that every other American has done in an attempt to come to grips with the senseless loss of life in an attack on American soil:
Ten years ago I watched anxiously as we tried to sort out all of the details and worked out a strategy to defend ourselves. I remember my confusion during the worry-laden phone calls with my parents and the prayer meetings at Southeastern FWB College. I hated Bin Ladin and Al-Qaeda. I remember the lump in my throat the first time I saw a jet fly overhead after the attacks. I bought an NYPD t-shirt and put an American flag on the back of my car.
As the years have gone by I have been a part of memorial services and visited ground zero. I have watched numerous documentaries, read article after article, and heard so many conspiracy theories about what really happened that, although I have more details, I am more confused today than I ever have been about how something like that could happen. I have never fully comprehended the number of human lives that were lost that day.
I do know that heroes have been revealed–from police officers and firefighters to passengers on planes and contractors who volunteered to help with reconstruction. I know that I have never seen our country more unified than it was when we decided to go to war and never more divided when we started pulling troops out. I know that I appreciate our military and their families more than I did before the attacks.
What I have not done is relive the emotion of that day. At least I hadn’t until I found the September 11 Television Archive. Remembering how a normal day with planned-programming, allergy medication commercials, and weather reports suddenly became the most tragic day of my lifetime brought it flooding back. The shock, disbelief, anger, sadness, fear, and confusion welled up inside as I watched, in real time, the World Trade Center towers burn and collapse. I realized that I haven’t been able to process the information because I haven’t combined the facts and the emotion.
Ten years ago, most of us forced ourselves to turn off strong emotional responses as we directed our energies into showing strong resolve and coming together as a nation. As the facts have been revealed, I have remembered the tragic events as numbers and timelines, buildings and planes, heroes and villains without consciously remembering the strong feelings I initially experienced. Watching the newscasts with all of that information already firmly in place tied it together for me.
I realized that the reason I haven’t connected my emotional response with the facts is that I was personally affected very little. This year I’m remembering that many American’s lives were altered greatly. They lost loved ones and saw their family members risk their lives to respond. I’m taking a little more time to remember my distress during what felt like a very personal attack because I’m sure those who were affected most still feel those emotions. I remember…and I feel.