Remembering September 11, 2001

Ten years ago today, I awoke to the sound of Howard Stern on my Clock Radio. I hated that man, so I used to set my alarm to his show so I would have to get up and shut it off... Once I was up, I wouldn't lay back down. Well, that morning for some reason I was to lazy to get up and shut it off right away, so I just listened to the show for a few minutes. I heard them talking about an airplane hitting the side of the World Trade Center Tower in New York, and thought, "This is their worst skit ever, what a horrid thing to joke about." But I was feeling to lazy to actually get up and turn it off, so I just listened. It was then, as I actually listened to what they said, that I realized it wasn't a skit. I jumped up and ran in to my mother's room where she had a TV. I turned on the news and watched, as so many other American's did, as a second plane crashed in to the second tower.


I remember that feeling... My knees felt weak, I would say it was like watching a train wreck, but it was worse. I couldn't not watch what was going on, and the words I was hearing from the reporters was like hearing someone narrate a tour of Hell.  I ran down stairs and sat on the couch, feeling like I just had to know what was going on.

I remember for a while they flipped over to talk to reporters in Washington about how "Capital Hill" was responding. And I remember hearing the reporter, halfway through a sentence, stop, and say "It sounds like something just blew up, there was an explosion." And you could see him looking around, the camera was flailing from side to side, til they saw the black smoke and started running. All of a sudden you could hear the reporter as he realized what just happened... "Oh my God, the Pentagon, has been hit by a plane. Oh my God, No!" His usually healthy, stable voice cracked and popped as the truth of what was happening really set in. His eyes showed the terror that he was trying so hard to hide. I don't think I was so good at hiding my horror, but then, I was alone. My stomach felt sick, and I just cried... I didn't yet know it wasn't over or what was actually even going on yet.


The news reports were flipping back and forth between New York and DC. It seemed as if each moment brought one more sickeningly twisted view of men and women literally running for their lives, screaming, crying, searching for loved ones... For a moment it felt like at least it couldn't get worse...  Until it did.


Our local news broke in over the national news to report that a plane had gone down just an hour north of me. If I wasn't terrified before, I was now. At that time I was dating a young man who's father worked for the FAA and who was in Pittsburgh. My boyfriend contact me and let me know that his father had been evacuated from the tower and they were clearing much of the city as well. With Flight 93 coming down in Shanksville, they felt Pittsburgh could have been a target.


My mother was working as a waitress that day, just a few blocks from my house. I called her to make sure they knew what had been going on. She asked me to take money from the bank, just in case. So I walked down to the bank, then to the restaurant... I remember staring up at the sky, watching the sky for more planes, and my radio was in my ear the whole time. What was going on? Why was this happening? Were were in more danger? Was my life going to change?


Most of the rest of the day I spent glued to the television... Rejoicing every time they announced a living survivor. And feeling a small part of my own young life pass as I started to realize just how many lives were lost... Listening to the friends and family of those who were in the towers as they prayed for their mothers, fathers, sisters, lovers and children... And praying right along side them! Then, realizing how desperate the situation for those in the towers were as I watched them, one by one, jump in hopes of at least dying quickly...


When the towers fell, all I could do was sob. I knew then, there was no hope of life ever going back to the way it was. Never! Our country, our world, was changed forever! Had I only known then, how right I was...


I was glued to the television and phone until it was time to head to work. Once they knew Pittsburgh was no longer in danger they allowed those that I knew in the city to leave and talk to family again. I knew everyone I was worried for was okay. But I still didn't know if there was any loss of friends or family or friends of family in any of the other areas... But work was still a must. So I went.

I was working as a hostess then and everyone who I waited on and worked with that evening was a buzz with what was going on, who they knew, who they were waiting to hear from... All of it... But in all that, I will never forget one old man. I waited on him often, he was a sweet old man, never anything but kind, but you could tell there was a story there... I took him to his seat, gave him his menu and told him the soups, like I had so many times in the past. Before I walked away he reached up and took my arm, he looked me dead in the eyes and just said "I'm SO SORRY!" I could see then that he had been crying too. He looked at me and said "I am to old to see how this ends, but I am praying for your generation! Today, is the day of your Pearl Harbor, and everything you knew, is about to change. I am sorry!"  I couldn't even speak. Somehow I think I mumbled the words "Thank you" before I ran in the back to cry... He was right, and I knew it!


That was 10 years ago, and it's hard to believe everything that's happened in that time. And how fresh the wounds still feel after all this time too. In many ways, that day changed my life. I didn't loose any loved ones, I didn't end up going to war ... But that day changed my life none the less.

As the facts about what happened that day came to light, I realized it just how wonderful this country really is. And it was the greatest aspect of us which those extremists wanted to squash. It was that freedom to be who I choose to be, the freedom to have the faith I choose, the freedom to be a strong, proud and happy that they did their best to destroy that day. Terrorists attacked our country and destroyed the lives of thousands upon thousands of people all because the freedom that we take for granted is in fact taken for granted... So I decided that day, not to take it for granted... I decided that day if I was ever going to be the person I chose to be, I would need to honor those who died by taking that freedom by the reins and living the life I choose!

A few weeks later I moved out of my mothers home, and started down a path which would lead me to be the person I am today. Obviously I'm not perfect, but I am who I choose! I have embraced that freedom, I have made a difference, and I strive to do so every day. I grew up in a home where patriotism and politics were not welcomed due to religious beliefs. So it was totally new to me. But it's been a welcomed change in my life, and in many ways, shaped me in to the freedom fighting, strong, happy and proud American!

Gods Bless America!

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