I realize I am a couple days early, but the upcoming anniversary of 9/11 has been on my heart all week. It's hard to believe a decade has passed since that awful day. The events are still clear in my mind. My husband and I (we weren't actually married yet but would be in a couple weeks) were woken up my husband's mother right after the first plane hit. We went to the living room and watched the second plane hit. For the rest of the morning we were glued to the TV. Watching the two towers burn was bad, but watching them collapse was worse. I still can't imagine the fear that people in the towers must have felt. More tragic news came with the crash at the Pentagon and the passengers who showed tremendous courage by overtaking Flight 93 over Pennsylvania in order to prevent further death and destruction.
Over the next few days I recorded hours worth of news coverage. I wrote a poem that filled an entire page of the local newspaper. I cried and prayed for the people who died and for those who were left behind. And like many others, I wondered what would happen next. A war was beginning; that much was obvious. Two lines in that poem of mine read: "You may have won this battle, but we will win this war." Of course when I wrote it, I had no idea it would take a decade to catch the man responsible for that horrible attack on our country.
Every year I have recognized the anniversary of 9/11. If I wasn't working, I stayed at home and listened to the names of the lost being read. I participated in the moments of silence, overwhelmed by the consequences of that day regardless of how much time had passed. When I was working, I did my best to partake in the events of that day, though I was irritated by the people who dared to go on with their business as if it was any other day. Perhaps I shouldn't have been angry, though. Time didn't stop that Tuesday. Life must go on.
In the time that followed several country music artists used music to share their thoughts. The CMA's opened with "Only in America" performed by Brooks & Dunn. The song was popular before 9/11, but it was appropriate for the time. I still have the VHS tape I used to record that show. I don't need to watch it, though, to remember how Alan Jackson took the stage to sing a song he had written during the night; it was a song nobody had heard yet. The words of "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)" made me cry. "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue" and "Have You Forgotten" were later released by Toby Keith and Darryl Worley respectively.
There was a surge of patriotism that began that September day. American flags were flown everywhere; bumper stickers and car magnets were displayed. I wondered why it took such a tragic event for people to be proud of their American heritage. And I also wondered how many people were sincere and how many were just joining the crowd.
I have not forgotten. In fact, I see myself several decades down the road still recognizing the anniversary of September 11, 2001. But I won't be stopped by the pain of it all. To borrow a few lines from another poem I wrote on the two year anniversary:
"For all those lost and alone
In remembrance we survive."