September 11th, Unified

{this is her face}
Today's post comes from Jenna at Mom, the Intern. She is smart, witty, and so much fun (read this post to see what I mean!) She's a journalism graduate, and has an amazing talent for writing. I'm so glad she agreed to do this post. So read her thoughts here, and make sure you check out her blog as well.

I was in 9th grade, a freshman in high school. I spent an awful lot of time in the bathroom that morning, feeling very insecure in the outfit I’d chosen to wear. As such, I was running a bit late. I heard my mom called me for our regular family scripture study so I made some last-minute adjustments and headed down the stairs.

That was the moment my life changed.

My mom had turned on the television for just a moment before scripture study. As I rounded the corner to the family room, I saw her standing in front of the TV, staring in shock.

“Oh my gosh. We’ve been bombed!” she stated in disbelief. On the screen, the Twin Towers stood amongst a sunny New York skyline. Everything looked picture perfect, except the dark smoke billowing out from the sides of the towers. It was about ten minutes to 7 Arizona time, meaning the second plane had just hit.

We watched the news a while longer, trying to make sense of what happened. But amidst the fury of this ultimate breaking news, we kids still had to go to school. So off we went with a million questions swarming around in our minds. Who did this? Why? Was it an accident? Are we going to die?

School didn’t go as it normally would have. Once the attack on the Pentagon had been confirmed as well as the Flight 93 incident in Pennsylvania, we all knew it was a terrorist attack and we wanted to stay clued in on the details. Every television in every classroom was set to the news, broadcasting the coverage throughout the day. We watched as the towers crumbled painfully to the ground and the crowds fled in screams of terror and cries of fear. We cried. We theorized. We prayed. Oh, did we pray.

That night, I came home from school and of course, our own television set was tuned in to the coverage as it probably had been all day. I remember feeling irritated by the repetition of the footage – plane goes in, explosion, towers crumble, people scream – over and over again. I had a huge headache and I was exhausted. I was confused as to how I should feel. I was sad, scared and worried for the future of my country. I was angry at whoever did this. I was so sad for the lives that were needlessly lost in this act of violence. Children like me were now missing one or both parents just because they happened to work in the World Trade Center. Each time I had that thought, a lump rose in my throat.

Just before I went to bed that night, I saw footage of the last tiny bit of the towers amongst all the wreckage, dust floating endlessly behind it. The video was set to a rather haunting piano rendition of “America, the Beautiful.” At that moment, I lost it. I sobbed. The events of the day had caught up with me and I could not contain my sorrow any longer. I continued to wake up and cry throughout the night. My precious America had been wronged in the worst way and it made my heart ache tremendously.
A few months ago, Osama bin Laden, the alleged mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, was killed in a firefight by SEAL Team Six. A few days after this momentous occasion, we sat at my in-laws house and watched a special on 9/11. My 8-year-old nephew didn’t even exist when the attacks took place and he had no idea who this bin Laden was or why it was a good thing he was dead. So all of us – his parents, my in-laws, my husband and I-- took turns explaining to him what happened, detailing the events of the day how we remembered them. It was emotional yet surprisingly therapeutic to relive it. He listened and watched in awe, unable to understand or fathom it. But I can’t blame him – to this day, when I see the footage of the huge jetliners flying into the towers, I still can’t believe it happened.

Here we are, ten years out. I’m now a wife and mother of two children. I think about how 9/11 forever changed our lives for better and for worse.  Our country will never be the same. And while it was a harrowing tragedy, it was also followed by a time filled of hope and courage. Americans banded together as never before after 9/11. We called upon God. We were a little kinder to each other. We took pride in our country. We became stronger.

And now, we deal with a different kind of stress. Terrorism is a minor concern compared to our nation’s financial woes. Everyone has their solution to the debt crisis currently plaguing our economy. Cut this, raise taxes – you’ve heard it all and you’re probably as weary about it as I am. But what’s the real solution? I don’t know, but I’d bet a million dollars that if members of Congress could remember the unifying spirit that carried them in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 and allow it to guide them in their decisions and actions, they could come to a reasonable agreement.

Did you feel that unifying spirit after 9-11? Do you think we've lost that as a country? Why? And how can we get it back? -PT

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