“I remember it like yesterday”
I do. I remember it like it just happened. I was sleeping when the blaring ring of the telephone woke me up, and I was NOT happy. I was a senior attending North Carolina A&T State University and my first class of the day did not start until 6PM. Because the day before had been full and because I hadn’t gotten off work until after midnight, the rule was always “do not call me until after noon”. Now, someone was testing fate.
I answered tersely.
My friend’s voice greeted me on the other end.
“Girl, are you watching the news?”
I remember sighing with annoyance thinking it was some minor thing.
“What channel you got?“
I sat up at that and turned on the television just in time to see the second plane hit the South Tower.
I knew immediately what it was. I knew it was a terror attack and there wasn’t a doubt in my mind about it.
I remember telling my friend that I would call her back, hanging up the phone, and rushing into the room of my best friend and former roommate. Not from that day to this will I ever forget the look on her face, and I pray that I never see that look again. I knew we were at war.
The rest of the day, the memories, the feelings, the unity, and the sorrow are forever etched into my brain. I remember standing room only for news conferences in the Harrison Auditorium under the leadership of then-Chancellor Renick. I remember my dear friend Darin escorting me to class and kissing my forehead as he walked away to check on his uncle and cousins who worked at the Pentagon. I remember my mother’s frantic phone call. I remember the horror of people jumping. I remember the screams as the towers fell. I remember the horrible words I uttered that I regret to this very day. I remember it all.
This is our D-Day, and one day you will teach your children about it. They will not grasp the pain of it, not unlike yourselves in comparison of that horrible day. But teach them you will and remember it, they must. For this can NEVER happen again”Resident Director, North Carolina A&T State University
20 years later
Today, 20 years later, the country is nowhere near the measure of togetherness and unity it was immediately after the attacks. Today, we have become so divided politically, ethnically, and mentally. Everything is us against them. Even when the country agrees, they disagree about how to agree. Still, for one day, we remember. We come together. We seem to be on one page as we remember the over 2000 lives lost.
The war that began as a result of those attacks recently saw the withdrawal of American troops and some Afghani refugees. So many more were left behind. The Taliban have reclaimed areas formerly cleared by U.S. forces and archaic and traditional ground wars have given way to cyber attacks and electronic subterfuge. We fight wars via unmanned vehicles and some ground warfare. We recognize that it is only a matter of time before it can happen again. So, we remain vigilant, hoping and praying that we never forget.
I remember a couple of days after the attacks, while everyone was glued to the television stations hoping and praying for miracles to emerge from the rubble, a wise Resident Director was talking to some of the young ladies. She told us that September 11th was our D-Day. She explained that while our generation never really cared about it with the strength and dedication of her generation, we would never forget this day. We would teach it to our children and they wouldn’t understand, but we would teach it still.
You know what’s crazy? At the time I couldn’t imagine children not understanding and not showing interest in this day, but I see it. My teenager understands and asks occasional questions, but it isn’t in his history books beyond a cursory page or two. It seems to have gone the way of Flag Day and President’s Day. We remember the day. We acknowledge it but the significance is never fully grasped.
The next generation may never fully understand
I still have a collection of photos and articles from that day. I have shared them with my older children. I have discussed it with all of them. The older children have seen the movies and documentaries. They get it…and they don’t. I pray they never have an experience of their own that leads them to grasp it intimately. For now, they see the images on the screen and shed tears at some of the eyewitness stories and actor portrayals. They respect the first responders who ran to danger and never away from it. They know it all, but they don’t grasp it. I don’t think they ever will.
May We Never Forget. May peace always reign.
Today, my prayer remains the same as it was all those years ago. May God bless and cover us. May we never forget. May peace always reign. May Jesus Christ always cover us with His love.