Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ten Years Later....I Remember Everyday

I debated for a whole week whether or not I was going to write a post about the tenth anniversary of September 11th. You might wonder why I would hesitate to write a post regarding my feelings 10 years after that tragic Tuesday. The main reason I waffled at the idea was because to me it does not feel as if it has been a decade since that horrific day! I remember the day our country was attacked every single day. I did, however, decide that it was important to document my feelings and experiences over the last 10 years (and one week), so here goes...
Sarah Herr and I were walking through Tyler Haynes Commons on campus on our way to our leadership class. I happened to glance up at the TV that hung at the Student Activities Center and saw a plane headed towards a building. I didn't think anything of it and just assumed that the students sitting at the desk were watching a movie. It struck me as a little odd to be watching an action movie so early in the morning, but to each their own, and I continued the journey to my class.
I arrived at class and the projector screen was down and my professor and classmates appeared to be watching the same movie I had glanced at on my way to class. I quickly discovered what I had witnessed was not a movie. It was reality.  My professor explained what was happening and I sympathized with my classmates who were from New York. Then the news reported that the Pentagon had been hit.  I started shaking and crying. We were at war. My heart sank to my feet.

Where was my dad? Was he at the Pentagon or at his other office? Was he safe? Were his friends and colleagues hurt?

It turns out my dad saw the plane hit the Pentagon from his other office. Fearing that his building might be the next target, he called my mom to let her know he was safe and bolted out the door to his car. He was stuck on base for eight hours and not able to call me until about that amount of time because all of the phone lines were down. Richmond had officially cancelled classes that day, but we were required to go to our classrooms and discuss the attack on our homeland. Many students hailed from the targeted areas and the professors and administration wanted to ensure everyone was supported. Thank goodness I was required to busy myself because I worried until I came back to my dorm and saw the message "Your dad called" scribed in my roommate's handwriting on our whiteboard!  My dad was safe....but my world was rocked....and quite honestly, I have been forever changed by that tragic Tuesday in 2001.

Little did I know that 4 years later, I would be working in the Pentagon. I do not work there now, but I will say, the moment I stepped into that building to report to work, the memories came back to me and they remain to this day. One of my bosses was the only survivor of his colleagues. He was spared from the attack because he went to the bathroom. He returned to find all of his colleagues dead from the blast. Another one of my good friends at work has been officially recognized as a hero. He searched the gaping hole and hallways for survivors. I am awed by Dan and Steve's humility, perseverance and heroic acts. I work with individuals who defend our country everyday. I love my hometown. I hate that it is a terrorist target. But, I also see the patriotism (and vigilance and security measures) that resulted from 9/11/01 on a daily basis.

So, while the 10th anniversary is significant, it does not necessarily stand out in my mind. I remember daily.  I will NEVER forget.

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