Sunday, September 11, 2011

We Will Never Forget

Like all of you, I remember exactly where I was when word spread of the terrorist attacks.  I was at college in Miami, finishing one class and going into another.  People were everywhere, crying and hugging each other as I walked out of the classroom.  My next teacher canceled class and told us to go to our dormrooms.  At that point- the reality of what was happening had not set in as it was still unknown what was really going on.  Back in my dorm, my roommate Melissa and I stood there staring at the TV.  I don't remember if we watched the plane hitting the second tower live or if it was already being replayed at this point as almost everything from that day is fuzzy.  We watched that TV for hours and if we said anything it was just "Oh my god.  Oh my god." over and over again. 

Many of our friends from school were from NY and seeing and hearing them try to get in touch with their family and friends was heartbreaking.   As we watched both towers crumbling to the ground, time seemed to stand still.  I remember calling my family letting them know that I was OK and making sure that they were as well. 

Much later after the initial chaos slowed down a little bit, the reality of it all sank in.  I think for the first time in my life I was scared.  Really scared.  No one knew if anything else was going to happen.  Bombs?  Shootings?  Our college was pretty prepared for emergency situations like this as we had just recently gone through the Elian Gonzalez ordeal and we had guards all throughout our campus and we basically got locked in then.  So if anything, we felt a little bit more safe than other people.  But knowing that I couldn't get home if something else happened scared the shit out of me.  It would take me a day and a half to drive back to Massachusetts.  What happened if more attacks happened and I couldn't get there?  Or my family couldn't get to me?  It was at that point that I realized that after college I was moving back closer to home. 

I remember seeing nothing but blue skies with no planes flying in it.  For day.  Weeks.  It was such an eery thing as we were so used to seeing dozens of planes in the sky with the two major airports just miles from us. 

I remember seeing how people just came together, some strangers, being there for each other. 

I remember being so proud of our reaction as individuals and as a country. 

I remember President Bush and what he said in his address to the country and knowing that he was going to fight back and thanking God that I voted for him. 

And as I sit here in my house watching football, I remember the first game that the Dolphins played once the country started to go "back to normal."  I was on the field as I was currently a marketing intern there and they were playing the Bills.  That day the stadium did a special tribute and everyone in the stands had a sign to hold that was just a color block.  Red, white or blue.  Throughout the sound system, the announcer did a speech, we had a moment of silence and before the game began, they played Lee Greenwood loud and with purpose.  As I stood there on that field, the crowd started singing along and raised their sign and the entire stadium became an American flag.  Hearing those 60,000+ fans all singing together was one of the most emotional experiences in my life.  Everyone had tears in the eyes and smiles on their faces.  Because we all knew that we would make it through this tragedy but never forget.  Not for one minute.

Every year on this date, I turn my TV on and watch the news again, the replaying of the live coverage from that day and I remember.  Because those men and women who we lost that day deserve it.  The sadness that I feel is nothing compared to what these families go through every day, missing their loved one, suffering their absence.  I live every day humbled, thankful, appreciative for those who continue to fight for our country, our freedom so that we can live the wonderful lives that we live in the US. 

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