A year ago yesterday nine – eleven was just the wrong way to say the universal emergency number, nine-one-one. Today 9/11 brings memories almost too terrible to hold and yet too important to ever forget.
It was just another day at first. I had just returned home from an early morning meeting. Bill called my attention to the television. I recognized the World Trade Center towers, but not the smoke spilling forth.
“What happened?” I asked.
“A plane hit it,” he answered.
I thought he meant a commuter plane. I remembered sitting in the restaurant atop the tower, drinking iced tea and watching the commuter planes flying below us, between the buildings. It was during our only trip to New York City several years before when we visited my brother and his wife. For these hometown folks planes flying between buildings was a sight to behold.
As we left the restaurant, my sister-in- law insisted I had to see the ladies restroom. So, as the men cooled their heels in the hallway, we entered the most opulent and luxurious restroom I have ever seen in my life. There were real marble sinks with golden fixtures, and a maid, dressed in a black and white uniform that looked more expensive than anything in my closet. She was dispensing thick, soft, white towels for patrons to dry their hands.
It surely impressed this small-town gal. The small-town guy with me was impressed with the elevators that went from the first floor to the top floor in a matter of seconds.
Then even as we watched the first tower burn, the second tower was hit by another plane. I knew it was not one of the small commuter planes we had seen. It was huge. It seemed to pierce the building.
Like the rest of the world, the two of us stared at the television screen, unwilling to watch, and yet unable to look away.
That was a long time ago. An yet, it was only yesterday.
So much has happened since then, to each of us, to our country, and to the whole world. I believe Americans have proven to the world that individually and collectively we have a strong inner core that will not be destroyed.
We have found heroes again. They come from all walks of life and they live and die among us. Most noticeably we have a new respect for the First Responders, including firemen, police officers, and rescue personnel. We were so blessed with them that we had begun to take them for granted. But no more. Now we give them the honor they deserve. Now we appreciate them.
We mourn for the victims, both living and dead. But we know we cannot ease their pain. We cannot grieve for them. Grief is a personal thing. Each person grieves in his or her own way. And that is as it should be.
But Americans do not give in to grief. We continue to live. And we remember. We do what must be done. We prepare for whatever will come. Our hearts may ache, but we continue on.
Today we stand proudly before the world, our flag held high, ready to do whatever must be done, just as we did before 9/11.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate September 11, 2002.
Kathleen Floyd is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her column Back Around the House II. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.