Like many, I remember exactly where I was when news of the Twin Towers falling was broadcast over television and radio. Just like some folks can remember where they were when JFK was shot and Princess Diana died, I remember 9/11.
I sat in disbelief in the SIU Student Center along with many other students who were crowding around TV’s. I froze. I remember walking to class only to find out it was going to be canceled.
Since then, every year on 9/11, I think back to that moment where I was frozen in time. When our country was forever changed.
For Sam, it was similar. He was a freshman in college and saw the news on a TV. Classes were dismissed for him and he headed home.
One year later he joined the military.
And in that moment, his life was changed forever yet again.
Today, most of my students do not remember this event that transformed our nation.
Our children hear of this on Patriot Day, but I fear they won’t remember this timeline.
8:46 a.m. – North Tower Struck
9:03 a.m.- South Tower Struck
9:37 a.m.- Pentagon Struck
9:59 a.m.- South Tower Collapses
10:07 a.m.- Flight 93 Crashes
10:28 a.m. – North Tower Collapses
For some, this day brings many emotions. Triggers from photos that are shared, memories of worrying about loved ones, and of course, the aftermath once the debris settled.
Survivors started to piece their lives together. America started to come together.
9/12 was a day that gave hope. But do we remember how our country transformed that day, the day after?
Today the names of those who died will be read. Congress voted in July to replenish the fund (9/11 First Responders), a fight championed by John Stewart. Thousands of civilians, people who worked in the trade center or nearby have developed physical symptoms, some have not.
PTSD does not have a time limit. It is not clear what triggers can make the anxiety, depression, hypervigiliance, and flashbacks surface. It could be the sound of an airplane. Photos of 9/11 and Ground Zero. For those who lost families, relatives, co-workers, and loved ones, the grief is still present.
How do we move forward? How do we go back to the time when on 9/12 we came together when we needed one another so desperately?
I am reminded of this quote by Barack Obama. Say what you will about his Presidency, but I feel that today we can still remember this and try to do some good in this world.
“Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness, is a way to honor those we lost, a way to reclaim that spirit of unity that followed 9/11.”
Unity. We need that.