Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Never Forget Where You Were
I hope this question, on this day, is one that never ceases to be asked: Where were you on 9/11?
For me this question brings on a feeling of deep sadness for all the despair people are feeling today, followed by a pang of regret and shame.
On 9/10/01 I took a flight home from a short weekend in Las Vegas. Deciding I needed the sleep, I called into work on 9/11 and slept in. Waking up around 9:10 I turned on the Today Show to see a picture of a burning building. Thinking to myself this was yet another school shooting, I turned the channel and watched a movie instead; oblivious to all the hurt, pain and devastation that was going on in the world right at that moment. Enter my shame. It's not as if by sitting on my couch watching the events unfold I would have been able to change anything that happened that day. No, my shame comes from the fact that people were coming together, suffering and I tuned out, lost in my own world.
It wasn't until two hours later when I called my neighbor to borrow a stamp that I found out what was happening. "We're being invaded, we're at war" she shouted to me. I don't remember everything I did after that phone call, but I do have one distinct memory that sits so clearly with me to this day; driving to the local convenience store and getting out of my car. From somewhere in the distance I heard the radio conversations from people reporting on the scene. Nobody was in sight and all was eerily quiet around me. Except for that broadcast. I couldn't tear myself away from the papers and TV reports for days after that. I soaked up every story I could, trying to somehow make it right by hearing their experiences, living through them and showing the compassion I lacked when I turned that channel.
A few days later while at work I overheard a conversation between a coworker and one of our vendors. She said she was so tired of hearing about this "9/11 thing". I was incredulous. The world that we knew changed on that day and she was tired of hearing about it. I hope she looks back on that day and feels a bit of shame herself.
No amount of remorse over our actions can change what happened that day. What we can do is look forward and honor the memories of those who risked and lost their lives so we can continue with our "American Dream". Don't let future generations lose the sense of what it felt like that day. Keep this conversation alive so they never forget to ask "Where were you on 9/11?".