There are days they say you will never forget. Days that are imprinted on your mind, your heart, your soul. Today is a reminder of one of those days. It’s funny how the mind works. For me the memory starts almost as if I watched it all unfold from another place. I see myself, sitting on the couch in the soft robe still white from the newness. The smell of coffee filled the air and I was sipping, savoring the first few moments of the flavor.
Then he ran in. The man who just a few months earlier had said I do and slipped a ring on my left hand. His eyes were wide and his breath heavy from tackling the steep stairs up to our attic apartment. Then his words came. Words that would change the course of our history and dash my simple thoughts of safety. It seems like then time stood still. As we switched on the television and watched in horror, unable to move, as our nation was attacked.
I remember watching the footage of the plane, seemingly veer off course and stare in uncomprehending silence as all manner of thoughts ran through my head. What is the pilot doing? Don’t they see the building? Dear God in heaven, all the people……Then it happened again. The broadcasters voice went manic as the true reality of what was happening sunk in. This was not a mistake. This was not some random accident caused by unknown duress in the cockpit.
We sat together, clutching hands that were shaking and sweaty and asked the same question over and over again. Why?
But it wasn’t over. The horror had only just begun. People began to jump. Fear overran all else as the buildings filled with fire and rubble and began to sink in on themselves. But the chaos was not only taking place in New York. Two more planes would crash. One taken over by the passengers in their valiant and heroic acts that saved countless other lives.
In just minutes, the whole course of our country changed.
Through the fear and the pain and the complete bewilderment, we joined hands as a nation and we called on each other for support. Volunteers rose out of the masses and friends and family left their homes to put in countless hours searching, helping, loving those who needed it most. And things changed.
Things changed in ways that are still echoing into today’s world. New hatred and old wounds broke open wide and caused dangerous chasms in the midst of healing. Still now we feel the old scar, reopened by a look or dress or accent, and there is misplaced blame and words hurled that can never be taken back. And so the cycle continues and the truth sinks in that we are there will not be change unless we make it so. We can pray for peace, but we must be an example of it as well. Which means we have to stop hating. We have to stop blaming an entire population because of their religion, their name, their headdress. And in doing so we honor those who passed thirteen years ago. Let their names not be tied to a never ending hatred that colors our souls black and tarnishes this nation.
This morning, names were read and voices shook as honor was given to the dead. In history classes and schools, businesses and community centers across this land moments of silence and prayers were sent up in honor of those should still be here. And one thing remains: