Yesterday I saw a picture of a 9/11 memorial and didn’t really think much of it. Just a picture resurfacing. It wasn’t until later that night that I noticed the date and realized that today is the anniversary of that horrific day.
12 years have passed and it’s not everyday that I think about the tragedies that happen that day. But today is different. Today is a day for remembering.
I remember exactly where I was when the attacks happened and for the rest of the day as we as a country sat by and watched the tragic events of that day unfold. I was 10 years old and had just woken up. I should have been getting ready for school, but a sore throat was keeping me home for the second day in a row. Though I was only a little kid, I can still remember the mix of emotions I felt as the day moved forward. I was sad for the people who lost their lives and their families at home. I was scared; if it had happened in 3 different places, didn’t that mean if could happen in Arizona? What if we were next? I was lost and confused. I didn’t quite understand how we were any better than the terrorists if our response was to go to war and possibly kill even more innocent people. But, despite every other emotion I was experiencing, I was proud to be an American. Proud as I watched the people of my country storm into those fiery buildings to try to save others. As I watched our president give a speech, assuring the world that we, as Americans, would not stand for this. As I attended a Catholic mass in honor of the day, lighting candles for the victims and the heroes. As I went through the day, a sense of pride swelled in my chest, knowing that all these people were coming together as one, that we really were united.
Five years later I visited the site of Ground Zero with my family. I will never forget how it felt walking into that place and reading the plaques on the wall. Plaques drawn by the family and friends of the people who didn’t make it out of those towers that day. Plaques drawn by the children of people who died just going to work, trying to provide for their families. They were heartbreaking. I couldn’t stop taking them in, the plaques that were the greatest way to honor these people. And again the feelings from that day ignited within me.
I won’t pretend that I feel a huge sense of patriotism because of the attacks on our soil 12 years ago today. But I will say that on this day each year something within me changes. Those feeling that I had on this day 12 years ago and again in the memorial 5 years later are the ones that resurface every year. It’s not that I only feel mad about it or sad for the people directly affected once a year, it’s just that today is the day that we’re forced to remember. And I think that’s a good thing.
People get so busy with life sometimes that they forget about the important things. And I think today is a good reminder not to take for granted the blessings you have in your life.
As my fiancé left for work this morning, waking me up for a kiss and a goodbye before he left just like he does every morning, I started thinking about all of the people who did that on this day 12 years ago. Something simple that they did everyday; packing a lunch, waving goodbye to the kids on the school bus, kissing their spouse. But on this day, they did it not knowing it would be the last time they ever did. I know it’s a morbid thought, but I couldn’t help but think ‘What if that happened to us?’ Really though. What is he left for work and never got the chance to come back home. Or the reverse. What if I didn’t make it home today? Talk about a wake up call to make you appreciate the things you have.
I guess what I’m trying to get at is that you never know how long you have anything in your life. And that’s really a blessing if you think about it. Yes, I pray every day that I never lose the people I love. Yes, I try to take care of myself and pray that my health stays good long enough for me to see my children’s grandchildren. Yes, I’d love to continue living in a free country, enjoying my many material fortunes. But if I didn’t know that at any moment these things could be taken away, I don’t think I’d appreciate them nearly as much as I do now. Because when I start to think about the fact that these things aren’t necessarily permanent, I start to realize how lucky I am to have them right now.
Today is an important day. Today we honor the people who lost their lives 12 years ago. The people who put their lives in danger to save others. The ones that suffered through that hellish day and live on today to tell the tale. Today, we reflect on all the positive things that have come as a result of this tragedy; better security, awareness, a plan, a sense of camaraderie, even if it’s only on this day. Today we pray for the lives that were lost, the families that continue to mourn to this day, and the people who are still fighting, 12 years later, for the freedom that we so often take for granted. Today, though, we don’t take it for granted because we really get to think about what has been sacrificed to allow us to take these things for granted. And today, if only today, we appreciate the things we have. We hug our loved ones a little tighter. And we realized that tomorrow might not come, so we’ll be damned if we don’t enjoy today.