Twenty-two years ago, some Bad People did a Very Bad Thing. That thing resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, some the day of the VBT, and some weeks or years after.
On the morning of 9/11, I had just gotten home from a night shift. I went online to chat with friends, after getting my kid off to school, and people started telling me someone was bombing NYC. I thought it was bull, but I went and turned the TV on. I tuned in just in time to see the second tower hit. It took a long time to register what I was seeing was real.
I had friends who worked at the Twin Towers. I had friends who had kids in the daycare next door. I had friends who were supposed to be on flights to NYC to be at the Trade Center that day. I had friends who worked in or near the Pentagon. I had friends who lived very close to where the plane went down in Pennsylvania.
People often ask, where the hell was “god” that day, when so many good people died? I try to explain, God (Goddess, The Many and The One) was busy. God was there with the people who took down the plane in PA, giving them courage. God was with those who stumbled blindly down smoke choked stairwells at the Towers. God was making sure some people were sick and missed their train, plane, bus, and weren’t there when they should have been.
One friend was supposed to be in the first tower, getting ready for a presentation. He missed his flight due to a sick kid. Another friend was supposed to be in THAT wing of the Pentagon that day, but she was home sick herself. Another friend was supposed to be driving under the bridge pretty much at the moment the plane struck the Pentagon, but he had pneumonia and was safe in bed. A couple of friends were supposed to be on one of the flights that hit the towers, but got bumped or missed flights.
I’m not trying to minimize what happened, but it could have been so very much worse.
Right now, half my social media is spouting “Never Forget!” and the other half is talking about how traumatic it is to bring up old news and trauma like this. I believe they’re both right.
I will never forget what I was doing, where I was, or the weeks after 9/11. It was a terrifying time.
There’s something else I’ll never forget, either. For a few days, we were One Country, One People. Everyone stood together. Differences were set aside. Religious leaders of opposing sects worked together to sort through the rubble. Medical professionals gave their all. Emergency services went above and beyond. Aid poured in from around the world.
For one shining moment, the Very Bad Thing had shown us what we could be, if we worked together. We weren’t ready to make that our reality, but it showed us. What has been seen can never be unseen.
And that’s why I tell my kids about it every year. That’s why I talk about it here and other places on social media. When I say, “Never forget!” I am referring to what happened after the dust settled, not the planes and the horror.
Never forget, we have the ability to work together, to set aside all our petty differences, if we really need to.