“I still have the shoes I wore to work that day.
The soles are melted and they’re caked in ash.
I keep them in a shoebox with the word “deliverance” written all around it.
They’re kind of like my ark, a reminder of God’s presence and the life I owe to him.”
Stanley Praimnath, 9/11 survivor
It was a day ripe with a cloudless clear blue sky.
The kind of deep blue sky that beckons one to look up..
to look up and far beyond…
It was the second week of September.
Labor day was behind us and fall-break was over a month away.
But there was something about this day, this bright blue day,
that made me stop and pause.
Since it was just before the end of my planning period, I had walked over to our vocational
wing in order to pick up some copies I had run off for my upcoming class.
On the walk over between the two buildings, I caught myself looking up.
Looking up and noting the brilliance of such a beautiful cloudless blue sky.
It was still very summer-like in Georgia despite the calendar reading September 11th…
I walked back into the main building just as the bell was ringing for class change.
I reached the door to my classroom in order to monitor the hallway as the kids
traversed up and down, in and out.
One of my colleagues, a coach who also taught Social Studies down the hall from me,
suddenly came sprinting by my room stopping long enough to tell me to turn on my
television because “we were under attack!”
I can remember asking him to repeat what he had just told me.
“We’re under attack, they’ve attacked New York and now they’re attacking Washington!”
As the kids were filtering in, I ran to turn on the television because
I really wasn’t comprehending what I had just heard.
As everyone began to trickle in, we gathered around the wall-mounted television
just staring at the images taking place in New York.
I remember hearing one of my girls announcing to no one in particular that her dad was
currently on a plane to New York…she needed to call her mom.
Needless to say, the day’s work and lessons were long over before they even began
as we were now in the midst of a tragic moment of our Nation’s indelible history.
That cloudless blue September sky changed our lives that day.
It changed our entire world, forever.
My colleague and friend who had stopped to tell me the tragic news would not live to see
the end of the next school year.
He was unaware that on that most fateful of days, the cancer that was multiplying inside of him,
was insidiously at work.
So much was changing, so much had changed.
It seems almost surreal, but today we have generations who were born well after
the fateful day of change…they are actually unaware that we were, that we are,
Simple names of states.
Simple names of things and places.
Yet all these years later, nothing remains simple about them.
Nearly 3000 lives were lost that day.
Many more lives were damaged.
Since that fateful day, many more lives have been lost due to the caustic air
inhaled as responders toiled to find the ashes of remains hiding in between the ashes of debris.
And then a war ensued.
And thus more lives have been lost and damaged.
Yet some people have the audacity to claim that the terribleness of that day was simply our own fault.
Some people think it really matters not that we should even take pause to remember.
Some people think it’s no big deal.
And yet on that day, lives ended.
Dreams were broken.
Hearts were broken.
And so yes, it is a big deal.
It was a horrific day of what seemed like a day of unending change…
and thus, in turn, we are now bound to forever remember…
Because the important thing today is that we must never forget why we have changed
and why all of those broken and shattered lives still matter.
Because if we do forget…if we allow our memories to fade…
then the pain, the suffering, the hurt that was felt by so many,
can and will actually return…
Such sweeping and tremendous pain mustn’t be allowed to ever return…
And so on this 11th day of September, we collectively gather to remember…
as we continue with our healing…
vowing that this will never happen again.
Our country is strong:
These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat.
But they have failed. Our country is strong.
A great people has been moved to defend a great nation.”
Former President George W. Bush on Sept. 11, 2001.
I have many memories of this day, but like you, I remember mostly the sky. It was a beautifully clear sky. As the leaves were changing color, the heavenly blue was the perfect backdrop. Soon we were glued to our TVs in amazement over what was taking place. It was surreal. It was unbelievable. I felt I was watching another version of the radio broadcast of “WAR OF THE WORLDS.” With the passing of several years I will never forget, but as the next generation comes forward they will need to know. Our most powerful nation took a big hit that day, but out of the ashes sprang a spirit of patriotism I’ve never seen which is slowly dying again.
Yes- the forgetting part troubles me the most these many years later
I remember. I was among those who sat watching the news of the first strike, and was aghast as we watched the second plane plow into the second tower. I guess we somehow thought #1 was an accident. Such heartless evil had never before occurred before our eyes. It turned many to unity and prayer. Now our nation seems to become further divided by mass evil before our eyes. God, have mercy and restore US(A) to you.
I’ll never forget that day. Even though I was far from danger on the other side of the country I knew, as many of us did, that everything changed, life would never be the same.
I fear for the future because it seems we are living in pre 9/11 days. Our guards are down and the unity as Oneta states above has completed dissolved.
Indeed— back to “pre 9/11 days”….
On that morning, the ‘colonel’ (a retired LTC from the Air Force Reserves) came to me and said that we needed to watch something on TV, right away. I told him that the TV is in the executive conference room closet, but the president and staff were meeting with a client. I then followed the colonel as he interrupted the meeting and rolled the TV stand into an unoccupied corner of the building. By the time we had a signal, a small crowd had gathered. We had no idea what we were seeing, just the plea of the colonel’s wife to turn on the TV. We got a signal just as the second plane approached the towers. Work halted that day. We remember, but have we forgotten? We, as a Nation, have returned to our evil ways and gone further into depravity. All those that crowded into churches that next Sunday never think about church today. Only those touched by God have remained. May God move His hands once more.
Amen Mark—yes, to remember…but have we forgotten???—-yes, my friend, I think you’ve hit the nail—we have forgotten…
I still get emotional reading about 9/11. I was 18. It came define so much of me; my time in the Marines, the place we went to in the Marines and also how that time in the Marines and the war shaped me today. I get emotional thinking about the people who died that day, and the many lives afterwards.
You could have been one of my students who gathered around the television with me that day!! I had several who enlisted and served in Afghanistan and later Iraq— it was a difficult time for all of us !! Especially the families directly impacted by the attacks, the first responders and then our military personnel— as we continue to be impacted
I could have been your student…that’s quite true. Thank you again for this post
I loved my kids Jim and most all have made me proud— you’d be right up there 😇
It will always be a big deal….
Thank you Julie for a well written testimony of a tragic moment in our Country. 18 years later and it still feels so surreal.
We must make certain that it will be a big deal to the generations who now follow!!!