Remembering 9/11 – My Story

by Stephanie on September 11, 2012 · 0 comments

in Heavy Stuff

Today I am running around like a crazy person attending meetings and preparing for a big presentation at work.   My to do list is long and I’m a little overwhelmed.  But I think it’s important to take a step back from all that busyness and reflect on this date.

9/11.

When I was growing up this meant nothing.  The most significance those numbers had were as a highway exit (9th/11th St).  Eleven years ago these numbers, this date, was burned into the memory of everyone in our country.  The attack on the Twin Towers was a terrible tragedy.  I think it is appropriate to say that it is, to date, the most significant event my generation has experienced.  It changed our country, our policies, and our thoughts.  It changed countless lives in countless ways.  It is the event that will spark our children to ask “where where you when…?”.

I wasn’t in New York when the Towers fell but like everyone, I have a story from that day.  I thought I’d share it today in remembrance.

 

In September 2011 I was a college freshman at the University of St. Thomas.  First thing Tuesday morning, 9/11, I went to my Psychology class.  That’s where I was when the first tower was hit. 

We heard nothing during class and I headed back to my dorm.  When I got there my roommate was watching coverage of the attack.  She filled me in on what had happened and we sat there, stunned, unable to take our eyes off of the TV.  We watched in silent horror as a plane flew into the second Tower.  It was unreal, like a bad joke.  I found myself wondering over and over again how it could be real.

The next couple of hours were spent glued to the TV.  I remember emailing with my immediate family members during that time.  I wish I still had that old Hotmail account so I could read what we wrote.  I knew no one that was in New York yet the horror, sadness, and disbelief of that day was overwhelming even for me. 

In the late morning there was commotion in the hallway of the dorm.  A girl I knew from down the hall was freaking out.  Several of us sat her down in her room and when she was able to talk she told us:  her brother worked in the second Tower. 

That statement brought the tragedy so much closer to home for all of us.  It made it personal.  It made it more real than watching it on TV ever could.  She tried to call her brother but she couldn’t get through.  The phone lines were a mess with so many people calling New York to try to reach their loved ones.  She spoke with her parents who were doing the same thing.  There was nothing to do but wait.

There were about 7 of us sitting vigil with her for most of the day.  We watched the news coverage.  We barely spoke.  What do you say during an event like that?  How do you comfort someone waiting to hear if their brother lived or died?

The thing I remember most about the waiting was how we pulled together.  We had been at college for less than a month and we didn’t know each other well.  It didn’t matter.  The sense of community, of strength in that group of college freshman girls was strong.  We waited until 9 PM that night before we heard anything.  And this is what we found out…

Her brother had bought himself a new car over the weekend, a Ford Mustang.  On Tuesday morning September 11th, instead of going into the office, he went to pick up his new car.  He wasn’t in the building when it was hit and he was just fine.

The relief in the room was palpable and there wasn’t a dry eye.  His sister was shouting “a Mustang saved his life!”  I remember thinking how incredibly lucky he was.  He could have picked the car up after work or any other day.  That one seemingly unimportant decision had a profound impact on his life.  I promise you, they will never sell that car.

Obviously that day did not end happily for everyone.  We could have just as easily gotten bad news like so many others did.  It was a blessing for me to be there.  To experience that good news.  It was a glimmer of hope in the face of a horrible tragedy.

 

Even now the memories of that day still affect me, as I’m sure they affect many of us.  My hands have been shaking as I type this. 

God bless all those who lost their lives that day and their families.

And God bless all those who fought, worked, and sacrificed on that day including military, police, and fire.

And God bless you.

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