This weekend I watched many of the ceremonies commemorating the events of September 11, 2001. I think about where I was that day and how the tragedy affected me not only on a personal level, but as an American.
I had just dropped my daughters off at school when I arrived home to hear the telephone ringing. Normally, I didn’t turn on the television in the morning because I enjoyed the quiet after the hustle of getting the girls ready and off to school. I answered and a friend told me to turn on the tv because something was happening in New York. Sure enough, I tuned in see that the North Tower at the World Trade Center had been hit. After that, I sat for hours shocked, confused and at times not even able to put a name to the emotion as I watched the destruction in lower Manhattan, the Pentagon and Flight 93. It was all a jumble, but most of the news focused on the towers. Then, when the South Tower fell, I looked at the tv, tilting my head, thinking, wait, what’s happening? It soon became clear the building had crumbled. When the second tower fell, I cried with such a deep, guttural anguish that I have only experienced one other time since, when my daughter died eleven years later. I prayed and wept for the poor souls in the buildings, for the first responders who had gone into the buildings and for those affected on the ground. It was hard to tell what was going on, but there was only one word to define that day; horror.
I had published a few books with a New York publishing house and worried about the safety of the employees. Thankfully they weren’t near the towers and I later learned they were able to get home, as the city was in shock.
In the weeks and months that followed, we learned about the bravery that had cost and saved lives. We were more gentle to our neighbors. Those of us so far away from the tragedies were thankful we hadn’t experienced the attacks, but our hearts broke for those who did. It was a time to count your blessings and make sure we supported a country that would never allow anything like this to happen again.
At the time, I facilitated a creative writing class at my oldest daughter’s middle school. Every time they had to write a story, it would be about defending the United States. Every single story. Out of those classes, two brothers went into the military, one still serving. My daughter and her best friend also decided to join. I’ll never forget the night my daughter came into our bedroom to inform us she was enlisting. I was surprised, since she had never expressed any interest in that career route. But how could I argue against this decision when she said, “It’s the least I can do.” The events of 9/11 had touched her more deeply than I knew. She would have finished her time in the military with honor had cancer not taken her life. I am still so proud that she looked beyond herself and wanted to serve others.
Every year on September 11, no matter what is going on in my life, I stop and watch documentaries about that day. It still horrifies me and makes me cry. It makes me glad to live in a country where virtual strangers helped one another in the time of a calamity. It reminds me that I am blessed to live in this country where I can freely worship God. I can’t believe it’s been twenty years. When I watch the programs, is feels like yesterday. Every person who remembers that day has a story about where they were, what they were doing and how they felt afterwards. Thank you for letting me share a slice of my story.
Tara Randel is an award-winning, USA Today bestselling author. Family values, a bit of mystery and of course, love and romance, are her favorite themes, because she believes love is the greatest gift of all. Look for her Harlequin Heartwarming romance, STEALING HER BEST FRIEND’S HEART, available now. For more information about her books, visit Tara at www.tararandel.com. Like her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TaraRandelBooks. Sign up for Tara’s Newsletter and receive a link to download a free digital book.