I realised something today. I realised that I’m part of the group of the youngest people to remember what they were doing on the morning of September 11th 2001. I was only 7 years old.
Mom had a La Leche League meeting and we had gotten up early to make the hour drive to the larger city where her group was. She got a call on her cell phone from my dad and pulled into a bank parking lot. I’m not sure if she was crying or not, but she was scared. Dad told her to withdraw some cash and fill the minivan with gas. Everything was in chaos. The lines at every gas station were mind bogglingly long, and it seems like some stations were running out of fuel. My dad was in the National Guard at the time. I was terrified that he would have to go to New York or Washington, or go fight the bad guys somewhere else. I didn’t want to lose him. Come to think of it, from then until a little while after he retired, that was probably my greatest fear. That dad would get called away and killed.
Several years ago I had the opportunity to go to New York City with my aunt and uncle. We were only there for a few days, but got to go to the beach, see the Statue of Liberty, and walk through the 9/11 Museum. It was one of the most soul shaking experiences I’ve ever had. Reading things kids my age had written about losing their parents. Seeing case after case of things pulled from the rubble. At one point there was an entire wall filled with paper cranes folded by school children in Japan as a wish for peace. We had gone to several war memorials in DC, but I wasn’t alive for any of those wars. Sure, my granddad fought in the Korean war. He once came back on deck of his battleship to find his seat full of shrapnel. If he hadn’t gotten up, my mom would have never been born. But as real as that is, it’s still just a story to me. 9/11 is personal. Those weren’t lives lost in history. They were lives I could have known. Souls I could have come in contact with at some point in my life.
It’s my dream to go back to New York one day. It’s an amazing city. There are plenty of things I want to see. Touristy things, not so touristy things. But someday, I want to go to the memorial and just sit for a while. And remember.