Remembering Sept. 11, 2001


So it’s been almost twenty years now since the infamous Sept. 11 attack on the Twin Towers in New York City, as hard as that is to believe. That morning changed our country forever, in subtle ways stealing some of our trust that life would continue as it had always been. What happened that day affected everyone — even those of us here in the middle of Iowa — in ways that have impacted us much more deeply than the security checks at our airports.

Our hearts were broken.

I was home alone that morning, in my regular routine of checking out the morning news shows while I ate my cold cereal breakfast. So I caught the very first coverage of the bombing at the first Twin Tower. “There’s been a plane crash at the Twin Towers,” Charlie Gibson reported, Diane Sawyer by his side.

We all know what happened next, as the second plane hit the other Twin Tower and it became clear that this was no accident.

No doubt I’m like millions of others who couldn’t take my eyes off the television screen as coverage went on hour after hour that entire day, but I had to tear myself away because I was working on deadline for a magazine writing assignment. Besides, what we were being told had happened was so unbelievable that I could hardly bear to watch. Yet it was almost impossible not to.

I recall that my son, a brand-new college freshman who had just been on campus a few weeks at the time, called me several times that day just to talk and to report what was happening on campus. Maybe home was a touchstone for him so he could know that some things were still normal. Now I realize that behavior was rather unusual for an 18-year-old boy. My daughter, in high school at the time, had many tales of what had gone on at school that day when she got home.

Even though I knew they weren’t anywhere near New York City that day, I was just glad to know that both were safe. Call it a mother thing.

My parents, both WW II Navy veterans, seemed somber at the time, like they were worried. I asked if it felt like when Pearl Harbor was attacked, and they agreed that it did.

Now Sept. 11 is officially known as Patriot Day, a day we commemorate every year with lowered flags and ceremonies. I hope we all took the time to remember those thousands of innocent American lives that were needlessly lost that day.

It is a day we will never forget.


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