9-11-01: Because We Did It Together

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2001 changed me.  

In spring, I almost lost my sight to a rare medical condition and then I almost lost my life from a blood clot in the artery in my brain.  I learned about the fragility of life.

We are not safe; we are mortal.  At any time our expiration date could come.  I no longer felt like an invincible 21-year-old who could do anything.  What followed—anxiety, panic attacks, and PTSD—still plague me.

On September 11, 2001, I learned my world was not safe and America was not invincible.

On that day, I did it all.  I watched the second plane crash into the second tower.  I saw the towers fall down with a mixed group of students and professors in the communications lab at college.  I prayed with my atheist college professor and attended a prayer service on campus and at my local church.  

Here in Allentown, Pennsylvania—smashed between New York City and Philadelphia—we felt the shattering of the world.  Places familiar to us on school field trips or one-day jaunts into the “city” to catch a Broadway musical became scenes of horror and death.

I vividly remember seeing news footage of thousands of now useless business papers floating in the air among the ash.  

And just after that, the anthrax letters began to come and I wondered if it was the end of the world.

But, no, it was just the end of the safe world I had lived in until that day, really until that year.  The contaminated air of cynicism and “the way the world really is” ripped a hole into my bubble of idealism.  My sense of safely and idealism was the air I breathed.

I didn’t know I was suffocating until years later.  I didn’t realize everything 2001 took from me.  However, I see how it showed me who I am and who I want to be.  It helped define me as a woman with compassion, love, and someone who would minister to the hurt of others.

Not only was it a defining moment for me, but also our nation.

We lost lives that day and we became patriotic for a few months.  And now look at us—remembering where we were that day but forgetting WHO WE ARE AS PEOPLE.

Despite all the things we lost on September 11, 2001, we gained a sense of humanity, exchanging smiles, and stories.  We had all been part of something TOGETHER and that’s how we survived as a COMMUNITY mourning in shock, in fear, but also in LOVE.

Yes, life changed for many Americans in 2001, but let us remember the lessons of the past, not just the people we lost, but the TOGETHERNESS we gained.  From loss and grief, there is always GAIN and we must NEVER lose sight of that as a nation or we will crumble from within.

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