Fifteen years ago today I woke up late. I had worked late the night before and didn’t need to be at work again until the afternoon so I slept in. I was living with my dad at the time and stumbled into the sun-filled living room around 9 a.m. I turned on the TV and almost instantly became confused. I had remembered people telling me that there was an attack on the World Trade Center once, but as I never learned the details, I thought what I was seeing was some form of remembrance.
I changed the channel. There it is again. Change the channel. There again. It was on every channel.
The plane. The tower. The smoke. The people. Oh god, the people.
I couldn’t seem to reconcile the fact that what I was seeing was a current event. I must have watched the news that day for hours before it really sunk in that what I was seeing was really happening.
The whole country seemed to be in the same state as me for days, even weeks afterward. Being in California, there seemed to be nothing we could do to help. The nation wept collectively. We became captive to our emotions of grief, helplessness, and anger. Everyday we anxiously awaited the news from Ground Zero, hoping to hear of survivors instead of more tics on the ever growing body count.
So many of us have said that we will never forget. But what are we remembering? The anger? The hate? The fear?
What I remember is the blood donors flooding the centers in NYC. So many donors that officials had to ask people to stop and wait for a few days before coming in again. I remember fire crews from all states were sent to Ground Zero to relieve those already falling over from exhaustion. I remember the locals making food at home to take to the emergency crews as they stumbled away for a few minutes rest. The nation rallied in every way we could with telethons and fundraisers.
I remember the way we all worked to honor the fallen. We suffered a tragedy. What happened that day in New York, in Virginia, and in Pennsylvania was horrifying. I will never forget that day, those images that are burned into my mind. But I choose to focus on remembering those that ran towards the fray in every location. I choose to remember those people who fought to bring that plane down in PA saving hundreds more lives. I choose to remember how we came together to heal.