Every generation has an event that has shaped people’s lives for good or for bad. For my generation it was 9/11. If you have a 9/11 story, no matter how boring or unremarkable it may seem, I hope you continue to share it.
Events that Change our Life
I spent this past Labor Day Weekend at my father-in-law’s house. He’s led a very interesting life in his 88 years. He’s an American born in Paris, raised in England and an accomplished scholar with a PhD in both Chemistry and French Literature. At 88, he’s seen so much but now his age is working fast and furious against his memory.
However, he can tell you about participating in the blackouts in England, especially the London Blitz in 1940. Although he was just a kid then, he can still vividly recall working with his family every night to turn off all the lights and pull the blackout curtains tightly shut so both the Germans as well as the English Air Raid Wardens wouldn’t find them. He can explain how he could tell the sound of a German plane verses the English Spitfires. German fighters made a whoowhoowhoo sound, but you finally breathe if you heard the roar of a Spitfire instead.
Connection to Tragedy
It was an event that changed my Father-in-law’s life forever. It changed his normal. It’s similar to the story my Mom used to tell me about a November day in 1963. I remember even as middle school kid, listening to my Mom tell her story about the day President Kennedy was assassinated. The nuns at her school cried, she came home and her Mom was crying. America was sad and scared.
Now, of course I wasn’t present for the 1940 London Blitz or the day that all of America cried in 1963, but I’ve heard the first-hand accounts of people who lived it. When people tell their stories of tragedy, it helps them to heal. It brings generations and nations together. It keeps history alive and it helps to honor the memory of people that were lost in those tragedies.
Honor Their Memory Today
Today, September 11th, is Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance Day. We honor the thousands of men, women, and children that died on September 11, 2001, in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Over the next 16 years, thousands of men and women served our country and gave their lives during the War on Afghanistan, the longest war in United States history.
Today, honor the memory of the fallen by taking a moment of silence or prayer. Volunteer in your community or do a good deed for someone in need. Share your 9/11 story with someone who wasn’t around or wasn’t old enough to remember 9/11. Remember that we have servicemembers serving our country today that were still in diapers on September 11, 2001. Or just share your story with a friend, family member, or even a stranger. Ask to hear their story too.
My 9/11 Story
Now, the 9/11 story from a 17 year old in the middle of Iowa isn’t very remarkable, but it’s my story. I remember I was a 17 year old senior in high school on September 11th. I wasn’t in class because I was helping to prepare for the Homecoming assembly that would take place in a few hours. 16 years later, I can tell you exactly what I was wearing and what song was playing on the radio (Destiny’s Child’s Bootylicious) when the DJ broke in to announce one of the Twin Towers was on fire. They stopped playing music on the radio and the DJs were trying to describe what they were seeing on TV. Iran to my Biology teacher, Mr. Robinson’s classroom and asked him to turn on the TV.
I remember my cheeks turning red when he scolded me about joking about such a serious thing. I promised him I wasn’t joking, I heard about it on the radio. He turned on the TV in time to see the smoking North Tower. We both watched in horror along with the rest of his students as the second plane hit the South Tower.
Where Were You on 9/11?
I bet most of my readers have a similar story. I know you can tell me exactly where you were that morning of September 11, 2001. You remember what you were doing, who you were with and how you found out. Keep telling your stories, no matter how ordinary and unremarkable they seem. Share your story, to honor and to heal, and to keep history alive.