The farther we are removed from an event through time, the deeper it is pushed into the fog of remembrance. Sometimes, though, there are moments of clarity and we remember small details. In some cases, those details are more personal if the event is something big and very public.
Fourteen years ago, I’d just started a job at PetsMart. One of my favorite jobs because I love animals (mostly dogs) and my shift was usually the closing shift. Going in late meant I could sleep late. The only solid memory I have of the morning of 11 September 2001 was getting up after my parents had gone to work, to watch television as was my habit. My younger brother has always woken before me and that day was no different. A phone call woke me, which my brother answered. I got up and went into the living room to find out who had called and I saw on our television that The Today Show was on and they were talking about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center building in New York. My brother told me my aunt had called.
I remember standing in the living room a few feet from the television, staring in what must have been horror and fear. Surely it was an accident. The pilot lost control of the plane, something malfunctioned causing it to slam into the building. Surely…. Because the alternative – that someone or several someones – would do this on purpose was incomprehensible. But they had. As the reporters were in the midst of talking about the first crash when it happened again. To the second tower. Suddenly it was no longer in comprehensible. By the end of the morning a total of four crashes had occurred. One in each of the Twin Towers, one into the Pentagon and the final one into a field in Pennsylvania. It is believed the final crash was meant for either the White House or the Capitol Building. That fate was avoided by the heroic passengers on that flight who sacrificed their lives to confront the terrorists and force the plane down wherever they were.
I don’t know if the world has changed much since that fateful day. These days I tend to think it’s worse than it was before that day. I know the country was gripped in terror for the months following 9/11. I cannot imagine what the people of New York City felt in the months and years following trying to come to grips with an attack not only on this country, but specifically their city. Something tells me, though, that they probably felt a bit like I did when, during my childhood, there was a plane crash here (natural causes) into a neighborhood outside the airport. For many a year after that, every time I heard a plane, I would scan the sky and watch its progress, hoping it wouldn’t come tumbling down. I’m sure New Yorkers felt something similar whenever they heard planes flying over the city. Cringing at the sound, hoping that it wasn’t going to slam into yet another building.
Time has removed us from that day, but for those who lost a loved one on any of the planes or the crash sites there is no fog. That is why on this day, no matter how far time removes us all from that day, we stand together and remember. We stand with those individuals so they know that the sacrificies their loved ones made – voluntarily or involuntarily – are not forgotten.