Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Remembering 9/11

I don't remember many details of September 11, 2001, but I do remember where I was, what I was doing and how I felt when I heard the news.  It was less than a month after I'd turned 20; less than three weeks after I'd moved out of the house in which I'd lived my entire life (in Vacaville, CA) and into a new house with my brother in Orem, UT; less than five months before I met Neil; and less than a year before I married him.  I was driving down State Street in Orem, heading home after dropping my friend off at work.  It was roughly 7:30am when I heard an announcement on the radio that an airplane had crashed into the Pentagon, and that only moments prior, two other airplanes had hit the twin towers in New York City.  Many emotions hit me in that instant, the greatest being that of confusion.  Was this some kind of joke?  After all, such topics as airplanes crashing into historical landmarks weren't the norm for weekday FM morning radio.

Upon arriving home, I rushed into the house and flipped on the TV.  Instantly I saw the smoking twin towers.  No matter what channel, they were there with the bold red words below, "Breaking News."  I don't think my eyes left the screen for at least two hours. It was terrifying and unbelievable.  I wondered what senseless human being could be capable of such a deliberate act of hatred and terror.

That is honestly the extent of my memory from that day.  I don't remember talking to anyone or even seeing anyone after that point.  I think part of the reason the events are a blur is telling of just how surreal it was.  Even now, the little I do remember feels more like a bad dream than a memory.  I think as the years have passed and I've grown to have a greater and more mature understanding of and appreciation for our country and the many sacrifices made that day and since then on our behalf, I've become much more affected by and sympathetic to the occurrences of that day.  This year in particular, as we've approached the 10-year anniversary, I've found myself overcome with tender emotion, especially when reading newspaper articles and other stories honoring the victims and their families.  It has been inspiring hearing about who these people were, how they fought to the very end, and how their loved ones have learned to cope with their lasting grief.  I can only imagine what they still feel, even now.

I think too about how eye opening this catastrophe was to the American people and how it affected ALL of us.  So often we look at celebrities and assume their problems couldn't possibly compare to ours when in reality we know that isn't so.  September 11th was just as horrifying for them as it was for us.  But despite the nightmare, I think the experience presented a strong bond of unity to our nation.  We were all in it together, celebrity, politician, athlete, millionaire or not, and we were reminded that no one is free from heartache or loss.

Of the many moving images captured this day, this, in my mind, stands above all others.
Courtesy of Franklin Thomas (read the story behind the photo HERE).
In the words of President Thomas S. Monson:

"If there is a spiritual lesson to be learned from our experience of that fateful day, it may be that we owe to God the same faithfulness that He gives to us. We should strive for steadiness, and for a commitment to God that does not ebb and flow with the years or the crises of our lives. It should not require tragedy for us to remember Him, and we should not be compelled to humility before giving Him our faith and trust. We too should be with Him in every season."

(from the Washington Post's series "On Faith", featuring President Monson's column entitled, "9/11 Destruction Allowed Us To Spiritually Rebuild" published September 8, 2011).

How true it is that we must have faith.  We will never be free of adversities, disappointments or heartaches during our time on earth.  Never, ever.  But we can take comfort and find hope in knowing our Heavenly Father has a plan.  We can have faith that He truly is in charge and knows what He's doing and that everything happens for a specific reason.  And whether it be in the bright and happy season of summer or the dark and bitter season of winter, we can and should always keep Him close.

I can't say enough how grateful I am for the brave and committed heroes of September 11th or how proud I am to be an American. It truly is such a privilege and blessing.

God bless America.

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