Fear. Paralyzing fear. That’s what I remember about 9/11. I was talking to my grandmother about September 11th — which her generation saw Pearl Harbor, JFK’s assassination, the Cuban Missile Crisis — and what I remembered most about 9/11 is the fear.
When the first plane hit, like everyone of you, I was sitting there thinking how could this happen? It’s an accident, of course, but how could an accident like that happen? But nowhere in you did you believe it was intentional.
Then, the second plane hit and it was a moment of universal fear and terror in the heart of every American. As everyone in the United States began to understand that this was not an accident. The horror in the eyes of our fellow countrymen will haunt us all for the rest of our lives. Watching the flames, the debris, the smoke. Losing so many of our brothers and sisters. It’s a shared experience that my generation and everyone old enough to remember 9/11 has to the war-ravaged America’s Greatest Generation and all of the generations gone before. I hope our children never have first hand knowledge of what that feels like.
But what I remember in the days that followed, besides the ensuing, consuming sadness and depression, was the unity and camaraderie of our nation. It is my hope that our children will come to know that feeling — minus the national tragedy it took to invoke it.
Our better angels were summoned in the aftermath. May we remember them always. When those towers fell, we found truth inside of that terror. Triumph inside of tragedy. Strength wrapped inside of that smoke. The flames that burned ignited a spark that transcended into a national fire of raging goodness that burned brighter, hotter, higher than the smoke of terrorism ever could.
That’s what I CHOOSE to remember about that time in our nation’s history. That love is stronger than hate and that truth always wins.
No presidential candidate or political rhetoric could ever steal from us that lesson we paid such a price to learn.