Sometimes the tragedy of 9/11 seems like yesterday.
Then I remember when I first heard of the attacks, I was a work-from-home mom of a three year old who that morning slept in later than usual.
That preschooler is now fifteen.
With 12 years behind us, I watched a series of documentaries on the events, and they weren’t easy to watch. After this much time, it’s easy and tempting to gloss over. But I felt I owed the thousands that lost their lives my time and perspective, and I’m not the same person I was back then. Our country isn’t the same.
Looking back, I thought about what life was like for me at the time, and on that day.
- Although I now live in Ohio and am the same distance to NYC that I was when I lived in Upstate NY, there is a fraternity of sorts, a bond, for anyone who lived in New York in 2001. Upstaters are famous for distinguishing how we are not from nor live close to The Big Apple. On and the days and weeks after 9/11, we were all New Yorker’s. When the second plane hit, we didn’t know how close planes might be to us. Would they attack other portions of the state? I lived in a city known for being the world headquarters for a corporation. Would we be a target? We New Yorkers grieved and shared questions that people in other states probably didn’t experience to such a degree. In an odd twist of fate, living in Upstate NY I saw nothing of the attacks on a personal level. A friend of ours in NE Ohio recalls seeing what he now knows as United Flight 93 flying dangerously low. It crashed minutes later in Shanksville, PA.
- The financial impact of the attacks hit us personally. It took about a year and a half, but the impact was devastating on the entire state. By 2003 the corporate city that was my hometown lost 20% of its workforce. The cost of a slice of pizza at the local pizzeria was more than worth of stock for Corning Inc. It was awful. My husband’s job changed so drastically that he had to look for other work, and that’s what brought us to Ohio. My position lost funding, and we decided to have me stay home and raise our preschooler and baby.
- I was working from home that day and missed the initial coverage. I had no comprehension of how horrific everything was. Perhaps God protected my mind from going there. I was in my own tailspin from a miscarriage earlier in the year, and I couldn’t wrap my mind around how people were trying to survive. How long after the attacks the heroes battling blazes or helping with clean up were fighting respiratory issues, or more.
- To this day I grieve how fast we returned to normal. My mom even warned me while we watched the news reports and speeches. The unity won’t last, she told me. I couldn’t believe her. Yet, in weeks. Weeks! I felt everything go back. People seemed complacent. Eternity and compassion fell to the wayside. And I don’t think we’ve rediscovered those things in measure to how much we need them in our lives.
- Like the attack on Pearl Harbor, we went as a nation from relative peace to all out war in no time at all. It was nothing for us to trust everyone over everything. People my age remember you could idle at the front of the airport and no one noticed. Try that now and watch what happens. I can remember the silence in the skies when the flights were grounded. When I see an odd license plate somewhere with someone looking suspicious, I take notice. Don’t you?
- One of the documentaries explained that prior to 9/11, many organizations were not connected and communication between them wasn’t just limited, it was non existent. Today the FAA and the military are on the same page. News can be viral in minutes from many sources. God forbid we ever experience anything like this again, but I’ll never forget the haunted look on loved ones looking for lost family and friends. They were using posters. Phone calls. There wasn’t Facebook, Twitter, none of that. Times have definitely changed.
With an older perspective I think it’s important to look back. To honor those who aren’t here and died for our country. To learn. To appreciate. To pray. I feel our country is more fragmented than ever. I refuse to live in fear, though. For everything about 9/11, I lift up truth.
The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16b, NIV