Everyone remembers this day in their own way. Everyone has a story, none less important than anyone else’s. For those of you whose story includes the loss of someone you care about, I am terribly sorry. I can’t imagine the pain or grief. I’ve already read many stories today; each providing a unique perspective on the day. I think it’s cathartic to share, so, here’s mine.
I was in computer programming class in my senior year of high school when it happened. Mr. Rudy had ducked into our classroom and shouted, “Terrorists just flew a plane into the World Trade Center!” A known prankster, we dismissed it. Then, the second plane hit. Crying in the hallway. The superintendent had told teachers not allow us to watch the events on TV. I don’t blame him, he was doing the best with the information he had at the time, but it was a huge mistake. Thankfully a handful of teachers had the foresight to realize the historical significance. We ditched classes. We wandered the hallways and huddled around TVs. Faces white, mostly silent and stunned. The day dragged on. 2:30. Time to leave, but the day wasn’t over.
For whatever reason, they failed to cancel our soccer match that afternoon. It was an away game, with about an hour and 15 minute drive. After what was probably the quietest bus ride I’d ever taken, I was glad to finally see my parents there. I hugged them. I sat in the bleachers with them during the JV game. I asked my dad what was happening. He did his best to answer.
I remember standing on the field listening to the National Anthem before the game. I heard it in a way I’d never heard it before. The way that sends shivers down your spine, gives you goosebumps and makes your eyes well with tears. Mine did. The really messed up part was, that day was so beautiful otherwise. Sunny, warm, not a cloud in the sky. So many questions, so few answers. In high school, soccer was my life, but I remember thinking how insignificant how trivial the game felt, how everything felt, compared to what had happened.
Looking back now, I am proud of how America came together to overcome the dark hours and days and months that would follow. Thirteen years later, in the grips of tragedy, bitter partisanship, and chaos abroad, we would all do well to remember that “united we stand, divided we fall.” #NeverForget