I have to admit that until nine o’clock last night, I didn’t realize what today was.
Thirteen years ago I was eight years old.
Thirteen years ago I had just started third grade, and was pretty stinkin’ excited.
Thirteen years ago I got up and walked to my bus stop, and one of the morning flights from the airport not far from the house took off and flew over my head, just like it did every morning.
Thirteen years ago I went to gym class and came back to my teacher in tears.
Thirteen years ago I came home from school and none of the evening flights went over the house.
My small Midwestern neighborhood was eerily quiet that night thirteen years ago; no planes flew overhead, no kids played in the yards, no one was out walking.
Parents had to answer tough questions that night thirteen years ago; they tucked their children into bed and hugged them a little tighter. In the days and weeks to come families had to say goodbye – to loved ones lost and loved ones heading off to fight.
First responders from across the country volunteered to clean up the fallen towers, to fight the lingering fires, to come alongside a city – a country – that was hurting.
Today I am twenty one years old.
Today I am in the first week of my senior year of college…and I’m still pretty stinkin’ excited.
Today I woke up and had breakfast with my mom – watched that morning flight go over my house just like it does every morning.
Tonight I will sit in my living room and watch the evening flights overhead just like I do every evening. I will hear the sounds of kids laughing and playing, people will walk their dogs, and ride their bikes.
Parents are still answering tough questions – these days dealing with math, history, science. They tuck their children into bed, hug them tight, praying over them. Families are still saying goodbye to loved ones lost and loved ones heading off to fight.
In some ways not much has changed from thirteen years ago. Morning routines are the same, planes still fly, parents still answer the questions their children ask, families still say goodbye.The landscape has changed, the country has changed and is changing, the history books have changed. I think in some ways we were all changed by the events of that day. I would be lying if I said that thirteen years ago I wasn’t a little nervous when the planes started going by the house again.
This country will forever carry the scars from that day and the days that followed.
To the police officers, paramedics, firefighters, and rescue workers I say ‘thank you’.
To the men and women who serve our country in the Army, Navy, Marine Corp, Air Force, Coast Gaurd, and National Gaurd I say ‘thank you for keeping us safe. For defending this great nation.’
To the mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, children, friends, and loved ones who lost someone on that day or in the days that followed I say ‘your sacrifice will not be forgotten’.
To the mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, children, friends, and loved ones who sent someone off to defend our country I say ‘thank you for your faith, your courage, your bravery’.
There were several times when the words wouldn’t come, where I felt that my words wouldn’t help, or be heard. There have been times where I was at such a loss for words and only tears would come.
My prayer today is for the families that were touched by the tragic events of this day, my prayer is for our nation – still healing, still facing uncertainty.
Hug the ones you love today.