Apparently that's the name for the anniversary of 9/11. I was unaware that there was a name for it. I just considered it a day to reflect on one of the greatest tragedies in American history.
Not a year passes that I don't think of that day. It is a day that has certainly affected my life over and over and over again.
First, there was the day itself, 9/11/01. Do you remember where you were? I do. I was living in Philadelphia. That morning, I was at my internship job at an investment company. I was sitting in my coworker/friends cube. We were gossiping and chatting (as women are sometimes known to do). One of our coworkers was walking by and said "a plane just hit the World Trade Center".
What was our response? "Ha ha. Very funny Mitch."
He stopped and said, "No, I'm really serious, a plane just hit one of the twin towers. If you don't believe me, come to the trading floor, it's on all the TVs".
We quickly walked to the trading floor. We watched, sickened. We all speculated as to what had happened. A pilot had gone off course? Some major computer malfunction on the plane? Some other awful mishap? At this point, our brains could NOT possibly comprehend the idea that someone had purposely done this. We were naive.
Then, while we all watched, another plane hit the other tower.
And we knew. This was no accident.
Then came the pentagon. And then the plane crash in Pennsylvania.
At this point, everyone's fears were running wild. We worked in twin towns in Philadelphia. We worked down the road from the Philadelphia stock exchange. What if one of these buildings was next?
We were all sent home.
My classes were cancelled.
I had to walk through campus to get home and I remember hearing people crying... everywhere.
There were ALOT of students at Penn whose parents worked in downtown NYC. In the World Trade Center. Or a block or two from there. Everyone was scared. No one could get through to anyone in the cities on their cell phones.
Terror and panic touched many lives that day.
Then I went to my apartment and sat with my two roomates and watched TV. It was awful. Seeing the smoke pouring off of Manhattan. Watching the videos of people running through the streets avoiding the falling debris. People covered head to toe in white dust, walking through the streets of an otherwise abandoned Manhattan. The eerie scene looked like something out of a bad horror film.
I tried to imagine who would do this. Why would they do this? Were we, as Americans, really so horrible that we deserved THIS?
As the days went on, my lack of understanding never improved. I still, to this day, do not understand this act of violence. Maybe it's because I just can't comprehend that kind of hate. And for that, I am thankful.
But this one event has had ripple effects in my life since then. Less than a year after this tragedy, I met my husband to be, who happened to be attending West Point at the time. We dated for 5 years before tying the knot. He was deployed twice during that time to fight the war that stemmed from this event. I got to plan my wedding all by myself because he was in Kuwait during that year.
Less than a year ago, he was deployed again. He missed the 2nd year of our son's life. And missed a majority of my cancer diagnosis and treatment.
This one event in history, this one awful tragedy, continuously affects my life in ways that I never imagined at the time. As a military spouse, I'm sure it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. This is something I will never forget and each and every 9/11, I will think of those families who lost loved ones, on that day and during the war since.
I've never written this all down before, so I thought I should. Just to remember. To commemorate those whose lives were destroyed by this tragedy. And those who continue to fight the wars started that day.