The 15th anniversary of “911” has come and gone. The tributes on TV have ended, the questions my children have about this day in history have been answered, and the moments of silence have gone back to chatter, noise and life as we know it.
I may have looked in all the wrong places, but I didn’t find any “special” tributes or reflections this year, other than the significance of pointing out that it was indeed fifteen years since Americans as a whole witnessed, and mostly survived, the deadliest attack on our soil in our entire history. We lost nearly 3,000 brave and unsuspecting American souls that day.
On Sunday I was pensive and reflective. When the National Anthem began playing on TV at the start of the Patriots/Cardinals game, I stood up in my family room. I believe in what Colin Kaepernick is not standing for. I believe that there is still racial injustice in this country. I believe that as citizens of the greatest country in the world, we are entitled to our show of non-violent civil unrest and peaceful protest. I also believe that 2,977 people deserved my respect and recognition at that moment. I stood quietly, with my hand over my heart, feeling very lost in the midst of my family members. I don’t believe that I’ve ever stood before in my own home for the National Anthem. I needed to do it that day.
I grew up with my parents telling me that they remembered where they were when JFK got shot. I came home from school in the 6th grade and believed that the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan would be my generation’s “where I was” moment. I was wrong.
I was on the floor of my living room, ironically doing “airplanes” with my 15 month old son when the second plane hit the South Tower of the World Trade Center. The North Tower had been hit just 17 minutes before. When Matt Lauer interrupted the regular schedule of The Today Show for breaking news, the report suggested faulty air traffic control communication was to blame for the “accident.” As I watched live from the floor of my home, my son’s belly positioned precariously on the soles of my feet, his hands securely in mine, it was somehow already clear to me that it would be a date that would go down in infamy for my generation.
My husband was in Las Vegas for the Auto Dealers’ Association (ADA) conference. He was scheduled to come home that Tuesday night. Like all other Americans scheduled to fly that night, he was unable to get a flight home. They tried to rent cars, but found no available rentals. My husband’s boss, an auto dealer, bought a minivan and together with 2 other conference attendees, they took turns driving virtually non-stop across the country to get each of them home to their families. My husband arrived on a Saturday morning. I still have the pillow he bought at a Walmart to help him sleep in the van after his driving shift was over.