I didn’t think about the date this morning when I woke up. I was thinking about the fact that today Jackson was getting his wheelchair. I’ve had some mixed emotions about that. On one hand I was excited for him to have a wheelchair. It will definitely make transporting him easier and more efficient. I absolutely hate the stroller we have and he doesn’t seem well supported in it. The wheelchair will also be great for his classroom accessibility. On the other hand, my son will have a wheelchair. It will make him stand out as “different”. The term itself, “wheelchair”, indicates disability to me and I don’t like to think of Jackson as disabled. In the end we need it and it will be good for Jackson. So off we went to pick it up. After adjusting it to fit Jackson and loading it in the car the salesman handed me paperwork to sign and date. When I went to write the date, I realized what day it was. September 11th. My heart sank a little bit when I wrote the date. Memories came flooding back and suddenly I felt great sadness for the families who lost a loved one that day. I looked at Jackson and thought of all the children who lost a parent that day. As a mother I thought of all the parents who lost a child. I got in my car and took a few minutes to silently reflect on all of that. Then I plugged in my iPod and found the song I needed to listen to. It was a song by the Eagles titled “Hole in the World”. “Hole in the World” was actually set to be recorded on September 11th in their studio. But before they got to the studio the events of 9/11 had begun. The band waited a couple of days to record it and the song took on a whole new meaning. The lyrics “There’s a hole in the world tonight. There’s a cloud of fear and sorrow.” pretty much sums up 9/11.
I can’t quite put into words what that day was like for me, I don’t know that anyone can. The life we knew as free Americans changed that day. In a way it made us more human. Up to that point I think we Americans kind of felt invincible. Nothing could touch us. We are born free to roam our vast, gorgeous country. We have laws to obey but we aren’t terribly restricted and we have rights. Our country is a powerful nation. Then we were attacked. Thousands of our own were senselessly murdered. And it shook us. Really, really shook us. I remember watching the first tower fall. I cry as I write this because I still feel the fear, shock, devastation, and disbelief I felt when that tower fell. My only thought at the moment was “How many people were in that building?” We couldn’t see the people in the building, but we watched them die. Then the second tower fell. It was almost too much. Then the images of the Pentagon began to appear on television. Reports of Flight 93 crashing in a field were broadcast. What was happening? All of the sudden we went from free Americans to trapped Americans under attack. What was next? My co-workers and I spent the day watching TV, we didn’t work, the phones at the office didn’t ring. We were glued to the TV watching the most horrendous images we ever saw. We spent the next week or so glued to the TV watching what was happening on the other side of our country, all the while feeling utterly helpless. Kevin and I talked about driving out to New York to see what we could do to help the workers at the World Trade Center. But I couldn’t get off work. Now I wish I had gone. My heart was back east, I wanted to be there to help in any way I could.
Slowly our country started to move on. We were a prideful nation, our flags came out en mass. Everywhere you went you saw the American flag. I wish they were still out like that. I wish our country could come together again like that. America is definitely different than it was before 9/11. Security is more of an issue. We have all these new rules for flying and going over the border. It’s an inconvenience for sure but if it helps stop another attack then I am for it. Whether or not we are stronger, I don’t know. In a way I think 9/11 divided us. We began attacking our own based on their Muslim religion. Many opposed our government’s new security measures and felt their rights were being violated. Our soldiers were sent off to fight in a war many of us did not agree with. Things changed in our country. Some for the better, some for the worse.
A few years ago Kevin and I went back east to visit his family. We went into New York City for a few days. We visited Ground Zero. At the time it was still a concrete hole. I had never seen the towers, Kevin had. I was in awe of the size of the site. It made me very sad to be there, to imagine all those who had lost their life that day. You could still see damage to buildings surrounding the site. I remember thinking that if someone I knew had died that day having to visit this concrete hole would make my grief even worse. It was barren, scarred and cold. Since then the Memorial Park has been created and towers surrounding the site are being built. I hope to someday go back to New York and visit this beautiful park. I hope it brings some sense of peace to the families of the victims. As for the rest of us I hope everyone takes a minute to silently reflect on all the lives that were lost that day, the families left behind, and the pride we should have in being Americans.