Friday, September 11, 2009

Where Were You?

I can't believe it has been eight years since the horrible tragedy of September 11th struck our nation. It's crazy to think so much time has gone by and so much has happened in my life, and yet, it feels like yesterday. I can remember every detail of that morning.

I was getting up for the morning, preparing to head to my Spanish class on campus when my phone rang. "Turn on your TV, we're under attack!"

This is all I heard and I struggled to understand the words because I had just gotten up, and was still somewhat groggy. But I made my way over to the little 13" TV in my room and started to view what looked like could only happen in movies. Crazy.

Phone rang again. It was my friend Darla (who always blows things out of proportion) but she was in a panic yelling "Don't go to school today!"

The strange thing about the whole situation is that I wanted to go to school that day. I wasn't afraid because really, when is something like this ever going to happen to little ole Utah? I know I shouldn't say that, because really, something this horrible could happen at any given moment. But for some reason, I felt safe in Utah. Far far away from the horror happening on the east coast. And I wanted, needed to go to school that day to be with others. I didn't want to stay home alone in my apartment with the TV on. I wanted to be on campus surrounded by my friends, with people to talk to about the strange and horrific events that were occurring.

I remember driving to campus and looking up at the sky. Not a plane in site. The sky was completely empty. It was an odd, ghost-town like feeling.

I arrived on campus and went to my 9:00 Spanish class. My teacher was so flabbergasted at what was going on that she just stood up in front of the class talking about how awful this was. Then she started talking about things that had happened in her own country, when she was a little girl. She lived in Central America and had seen horrible things. But somehow, what she had seen didn't compare to what I saw that morning, in my own country. On American soil. I remember my teacher so upset and frustrated with the whole thing that she was rambling on and on slipping back and forth from Spanish to English.

When class got out, I went over to the student center and gathered around the big screen in the lobby with other students. We sat there and watched CNN for probably three hours. I don't remember much else from that day. I know I called my family. Even though they too were safe in Utah, I needed to hear their voices and tell them I loved them.

What is so strange to think about is that Michael, who I obviously didn't know at the time, was in Washington DC working just across the water way at the Marine Corps Museum. He was close enough to see the smoke. He was there. Where one of the planes had hit. I had no idea then, how connected I would be to this tragedy. Had I been married to Michael then, knowing how close he was, I'm sure I would have had a much different experience on that day.

Later that same year in March, I visited Ground Zero. There was nothing to see other than a pit of rubble, and two old iron beams that remained in the form of a cross after the towers fell. I was lucky enough to see the towers in 1994 and 1996 when I had visited previously. I have personal photos taken of New York's beautiful, but now altered, skyline. And in 2002, I saw what was no longer there.

I know I'll tell my children about this. I know one day they'll come home from history class and open the pages of their text book up and there will be a picture of the towers burning, and the rubble that would soon follow their collapse. I know they'll ask me what I was doing that day, and if I remember. And I do remember. And they'll ask me where I was and I'll tell them I was safe in Salt Lake. And then they'll ask Daddy where he was, and he'll have to tell him how close he was, and what he saw. And they too will realize how they are connected to something that happened before they were even born.

I do remember. And I always will.

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