Do you remember what you were doing at 8:46 a.m., Sept. 11, 2001? I do. I was at work. Someone said "look at this." At that moment the blue September sky erupted into flames and New York City's skyline would forever be changed.
My first response was disbelief. This is a trick shot, a hoax, I thought. The images on the screen could not be real. Of course, they were. We were sent home that morning to be with our families.
We were to witness the attack over and over again, as the media attempted to make sense of a senseless act. The sight of that plane connecting with the top of the Twin Towers has been indelibly etched into many minds. The plane, the flames, the smoke were replayed over and over again. Who, why and how was this accomplished, we wondered? Slowly the truth emerged. The name al-Qaida became the answer to many of our questions.
The hours and days following the attack found Americans panic stricken, fearful, suspicious, compassionate, united and heroic. Sept. 11 brought Americans together in a spirit of camaraderie never before witnessed with such intensity. It also divided and estranged some because of the color of their skin or their manner of dress. It was the best of times, the worst of times.
Over the years following the horror of that day our country has healed. Memories can be stored somewhere deep within the collective consciousness where they are less painful. Life has become almost predictable again. The rubble has been cleared, rebuilding has occurred and a memorial established. The pages of history books now tell the story. Life goes on, as it should. Are there lessons still to be learned from 9/11? Of course. Have we moved past that day, stronger as a people, as a country? Perhaps?
Once a year we carve out a small niche of time to pause, remember and reflect. We honor the heroes and mourn those who died. A dozen years has dulled the intensity of that day but the fear, hurt and heroism will never be forgotten.