I wrote this story on Facebook roughly 8 years ago, shared it a couple years back, but felt it was a good time to re-share on the 20th anniversary of the attacks that changed America. I’ve updated a little bit of it with dates and some more additional thoughts.
This was my generation’s JFK of “where were you?”
20 years ago is a day I can’t forget. The teachers in my district were on strike due to a contract issue and I was in bed sleeping. I got a call on the house phone around 8:45 from my aunt that I ignored and figured my mom would pick it up. I woke up around noon, turned the tv on, and was just in shock. I ran down the stairs as fast as anyone ever could and immediately tried calling my dad.
See, my dad worked in NY for almost 20 years. He was there. He was at the World Trade Center as things happened. He ran from both towers as they fell. His work car was destroyed as it was parked only streets from the WTC. He told me about the attacks of ’93 one day when I spent the day in NYC with him, and I believe I actually walked through the lobby one day as a kid.
Do my dad and I see eye to eye all the time? No.
Do we argue? Yes.
Do I love him? Yes.
Was I absolutely scared something had happened to him in the attacks? You better believe it.
Cell phones were relatively new and service in that area was pretty much non-existent for hours. Those next 6 hours until he got home were one of the longest in my life. There was no way to get in touch with him. We went to our synagogue, as so many other people had went to their place of worship, and the outpour of thoughts and prayers to my dad was tremendous. I thank G-d that he was not taken from us that day. He has gone far and above what any father has done for his children. Leaving for work at 5am and getting back at 7pm almost everyday and then going to our events, he didn’t complain. We take things like this for granted as kids.
There have been many stories of someone forgetting something at home, missing the train, being sick, having a client cancel, etc. It’s truly mind-boggling. Unfortunately, there were almost 3,000 other people who weren’t so lucky. Those on the planes didn’t wake up thinking their lives were going to end the way it did. Those working in the buildings, the same thing. There were many heroes who died saving others, those who weren’t a first responder
Do we want to forget 9/11 and something that happened 20 years ago? No.
We should also never forget the lives post 9/11 who died protecting this country we take for granted is free.
The war on terror is real. We should not live in fear. We should stand together as Americans. (2021 update: America just left Afghanistan that started because of 9/11)
Many people joined the armed forces because of this tragedy.
People are still feeling the personal impact of 9/11, whether it’s still not having someone identified, the cancer the rumble brought to First Responders, or the kids born just before or after the tragedy and growing up without a parent.
Never forget, but never take for granted the things in our lives.
We can also never forget what happened on Flight 93 or what happened at the Pentagon. I know that, as Americans, we can associate 9/11 with just the World Trade Center, we tend to not remember (I won’t say forget) Flight 93 in Schwenksville or the attack on the Pentagon. Those on Flight 93 took matters into their own hands and sacrificed themselves in the hopes of saving millions of lives.
We’ve been very polarized over many issues over the last 5-10 years. Even during the hight of the pandemic, the numbers of those dying would constantly be compared to the Sept. 11 attacks. Fair a comparison or not, we know how hard we’ve mourned the 3,000+ lives lost in 2001.
20 years has changed how we act around someone who looks “different”. 20 years ago, it was America first – American flags everywhere. But it also a bit of hatred, vitriol, and anger towards people who have no connection, except the color of their skin, to those who attacked America that day.
It’s taken time, but we’re still learning to help others and not judge others by the color of their skin or what country they come from.
Let us never forget and strive to still be the land of opportunity and freedom.
I know I didn’t witness the events of that day firsthand. I know I didn’t lose a friend or loved one that day. I know my story doesn’t have a tragic ending like many had that day.
But it’s still my story that’s had an impact on my life.
“And I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died who gave that right to me. And I gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today. ‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land, G-d bless the USA.” -Lee Greenwood