It doesn't seem possible that ten years have passed since that blue sky morning in September that changed everything. But I only need to look at my daughter who is now ten and who was then only a three-week old baby to know that time does indeed march on.
That day is seared in my memory as I imagine it is in yours. I had just fed my baby, had just put her in her bouncy chair in our kitchen, had just picked up my own bowl of oatmeal when I flipped on the Today show and saw the first tower aflame.
I watched the second tower be hit on live TV.
I called my husband at work; at that time, he was still in the Reserves having resigned his Naval Officer Commission just 16 months earlier. I told him to find a TV in the factory as soon as possible with my first breath and then in the next, I asked if he thought we were at war, if we needed to prepare for him to be pulled back to active duty.
I watched the coverage of the Pentagon and racked my mind for friends still in the Navy who were pulling shore tours there.
I remember feeling like I needed to get away from the TV, to step away from what seemed to be the start of the end of the world. I took the baby for a walk up 4th Street, right past Eastern Illinois University, like I did every morning.
But that morning, I kept looking up at the sky, fearful.
Ten years have gone by but that day is just yesterday in my mind. I think it is that way for most everyone who lived through that day, for those who survived and escaped and for those of us who watched, helpless, crying, changed.
My daughter is ten now and in fifth grade. Her homework this weekend was to interview her parents about 9/11. Just talking about it again, talking out loud about the horror of that day and the days and weeks that followed, made me tear up, my voice choking.
We will never forget. Never.
But in the face of all the sadness and horror and loss, there was goodness.
There was hope.
With hope, there is everything.
I leave you with these words, ones that aren't mine but are those of Fr. James Martin, a priest who ministered to rescue workers at Ground Zero in the days after 9/11:
"For me, it was as if God was offering us a parable. In the Gospels, when people asked what God or the Kingdom of God is like, Jesus offered them a parable, a story drawn from nature or everyday life to help them understand things more deeply. Jesus would say: God is like the father welcoming back his son. Or: God is like a woman sweeping her house. And here was God offering us a parable today. As I looked around at the rescue workers, I thought, what is God like? God is like the firefighter who rushes into a burning building to save us. That is how much God loves us."
May God bless and keep you this day of all days and every day.
And may God bless America.