I will never forget the phone call. Ten years ago I was a college freshman and about to leave for class. My mother called me and told me not to go. A plane had hit the World Trade Center. I turned on the news, sunk onto my bed and from my small dorm room I watched the world change.
I watched the towers fall.
I watched lives end.
My thoughts immediately flew to my dad who traveled often for work. I dialed his number, praying I would get through. He answered and we talked. I could hear the shock, the sadness, the change in life as we know it in his voice.
I was glued to the t.v for hours. Sirens broke out on campus and fear overtook me. I looked out my tiny window and I waited. Was this the end? Was my campus next? Were other places under attack right now?
I thought about the people on the planes. I still think about them. Not just on the anniversary, but often. At random times. What was it like for them knowing they were about to die? Were they able to say goodbye to loved ones? Did they cling to strangers for comfort?
I think about the people in the towers. Those who ran. Those who jumped.
I think about the first responders. Those who went into the towers, who lost their lives trying to save others.
I think about those brave men and women who fought back, who in the last moments of their lives, saved others by altering the course of their plane. A plane that crashed into a field instead of its intended target.
I think about those still suffering today. Those whom, every time they take a breath, are reminded of that day.
I think about those who lost loved ones. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, friends.
I've talked to people who were there that day. Who waited for cell phone reception to find out if their loved ones were safe. To find out how deeply their lives would be altered.
I've heard of those who overslept, missed their flight, were running late to work. Those who were saved.
I've heard of those who were on stand-by, those who were able to get on one of those ill-fated flights. Those who were lost.
These good fortunes for some and accidents for others turned out to be the difference between life and death. This fact gives me chills, makes my stomach hurt, makes me wonder, every time I get on a plane, which category I will fall into.
I'm remember that day so clearly. The emotions I felt. The changes in our reality as I realized our world would never be the same. I remember wondering if it was okay to laugh, to go class, enjoy time with friends, cheer at football games, to put one foot in front of the other and move forward. And I remember feeling that I had to, that we all had to, or else "they" had taken the lives of us all.
And so I moved forward.
But I think of those who died, of those who grieve, and of those who fight to defend our great nation, and I will never forget.