I have been writing a lot in the past few weeks about the loss to my family, but today is not the day for that. Today is the day to think about the loss of thousands of people who did nothing wrong and had no way of knowing that it was coming. Today is the day to think about those mothers and babies who lost their mothers and babies to an act of hate.
I was 25 years old when the planes hit the towers. I was on my way to a journalism class and as of the moment that I entered the classroom I thought that there had been a horrible accident and a plane had lost control and crashed. Upon leaving my class I headed to the student union where the TV was on and there was probably a hundred people staring at a TV screen. I watched as the second plane hit the tower. I gasped in horror at the scene. At first feeling confusion and denial that there was a mistake and that it couldn’t possibly have happened again. Then realizing that it wasn’t a mistake. That this was an actual act of terror.
I could talk about the feeling in the US after this event. I could talk about our freedoms and our fears.. but I don’t want to. That is not what is important about that day. That day thousands of people died. Real people. Real mothers, real fathers, real children, real sons, real daughters, real brothers, real sisters, real husbands, real wives.. grandmothers.. grandfathers.. aunts.. uncles.. friends. REAL.
Most of us have seen the movies made about this tragedy. Some of them dramas, some conspiracy theories, some just plain news series… most of them talk about what our nation was going through, but I don’t want to talk about that.
I was working for a newspaper company when the towers fell, and that day the phones were silent. The office was silent except for the radios that were playing the updated information of what was being seen and discovered. I was listening to the radio when I heard about the plane hitting the pentagon and then the plane going down in that Pennsylvania field. I was living in Boston when I saw that the planes that destroyed so many lives left my city.
I don’t want to talk about how our policies changed, or how everyone suddenly wore the flag proudly. I want to talk about my old boss’s wife who was on one of those planes. I didn’t know her well. I wasn’t at that job long, but I remember her. I still remember her. She was always pleasant and friendly, and very stylish. My boss was a sweet man who basically paid me to read books and watch the phone and the door… he always came in with a smile.. and always left well after the rest of us. He lost his wife that day. A lot of people did.
I was lucky. That was as close as I got to losing someone in that disaster. I was lucky, my father had gone to Boston that day for work, but he came home. My friends had flown to other destinations, but they all made it back. At 24 years old I had no idea about true loss. I thought of that calamity as a national loss… now that I’m older. Now that I’m more aware, all I can think of is those kids who never saw their parents again… and those mothers and fathers who watched the building that their babies worked collapse. Those husbands and wives who received that last phone call knowing their love was never coming home.
Today we all see the police, fire, and military presence memorializing those lost, and a great deal of them were armed forces and emergency services, but a lot of them were just everyday people who smiled at the front desk girl every morning. Today is about them and their families.