15 Years Ago Seems Like Yesterday

15 years ago, September 11th started out like any other day.  Children were on their way to school, people were on their way to work, and errands were being run; life was simply going through its daily motions  – nothing ordinary, so we thought.

15 years ago, September 11th also became the day that shook our country to the core and forever changed the way we looked at the world.  Our lives would never be the same.

September 11th will be the day that we as Americans no longer viewed terrorism as something that happened thousands of miles away in some distant land to people we don’t know.  We learned on that fateful day we are not immune to the evils in this world.  Evil had arrived on our doorstep and we were its victim — American innocence was forever lost.

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As I sit here, the memories of that day are still as vivid as they were back then.  Like many other Americans that day, my morning was in full swing and it was day that seemed full of exciting new beginnings.  I had dropped my son off for his first full-year of preschool, went to attend a volunteer parent meeting at my daughter’s school where she had recently started Kindergarten and I had a mile long “to do” list for a new venture I had recently launched.  Little did I know my new exciting beginnings were about to take an abrupt turn and become frightening beginnings.

As I walked through the door of my home to continue my normal routine, I saw that my husband was still home and not at work.  He was sitting there staring at the television with a look of shock and horror.  All he could say was, “We are under attack”.  As I came closer and saw the horrible images on the TV screen, I couldn’t believe that what I was seeing was actually real.  Real it was and the news just kept getting worse and worse.  Plane after plane was being used as a weapon of destruction and it seemed like the nightmare would never end.

Hundreds of miles away in South Florida, with no ties to New York or Washington DC, it never occurred to me as I was watching the news reports, that I could ever possibly know a 9/11 victim or family member – how wrong I was.  One of our neighbors at that time had a husband who was a pilot.  A few of us went to check on her to see if she was OK and to find out any news of his safety.  When she opened the door, her face was ashen and her body was shaking.  All of our hearts stopped for a moment – was he one of the pilots?  We held our breath as she she quietly said her husband wasn’t flying that day, but continued to tell us that her brother worked for Cantor Fitzgerald and he was in the burning North Tower.  Evil had found its way to our small, quiet suburban Florida neighborhood and at that moment we were hit with the reality that terrorism can happen to us.

The days that followed seemed surreal, but something amazing started to happen.  Americans began to come together and heal.  Americans grieved with one another and for a moment in time we saw the clear picture that even though there was evil in this world, there was still plenty of goodness to battle it.  If we worked together we would overcome this tragedy.

September 11th will forever be etched in history as one of America’s worst tragedies, but it will also be a day that is remembered when we put all of our differences aside and became united as a nation.  We understood on that day that terrorism did not discriminate.  Terrorism did not care if you were rich or poor, black or white, man or woman, Republican or Democrat, what your religion was or any other dividing factor — all it cared about was inflicting fear and destruction to the soul of America.

On this day, an anniversary we wished didn’t exist,  it’s important to not only honor those who lost their lives and those whose bravery saved many others, but also to remember how strong we were as a country with patriotism being shown by every American from “sea to shining sea”.  If September 11th has taught us anything, it has taught us that it is possible for us to take the differences that divide us and that we have the power to come together and work side-by-side for the goodness in the world.  When we are united, evil can not take hold and destroy us.

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Today, the twin towers have been replaced by One World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, serving as a somber reminder for Americans to never forget.  It is a powerfully moving tribute to the victims and a reminder of the strength of our country to overcome and rise up from the ashes.  Let this day help us all to remember what we are capable of when we unite in our common interests, let us never forget, and let us stand tall as one America on this anniversary.

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