I remember the refreshing breeze in the air that day- the brilliant blue sky that mid-morning, set the stage for a terror we had never known.
I recall leaving my giant cell phone home on my smoothly-made bed that day (why would I need it on my busy second day as a guidance counselor, anyway?), then fearfully calling everyone I could from my black desk phone until my long time friend’s safety was assured. She was an AA flight attendant who regularly flew the route flight 11 took.
I will never forget the feeling of helping a line of kids make the same kind of phone call from the guidance office- and the feeling in my gut upon learning that one student’s parent indeed was not safe.
I can remember the odd feeling of flipping through the TV channels, and finding MTV blacked out, with the simple message, “In light of today’s terror attacks…”
It was all so terrifying, so surreal.
I also remember, however, the strong sense of kindness and unity that erupted simultaneously across this country.
We wore red, white, and blue ribbons. We took an extra minute to let someone cross the street. We made eye contact with one another. We checked in- asked people we didn’t even know in the Dunkin’ Donuts line how they were doing. We cared.
The underlying sense of danger lingered for a long time after 9/11… until it just didn’t. Our sense of unity frayed and faded with the tiny flags that everyone had duct taped to their car antennas… and the American way of life resumed.
Why is it that it takes such a terrible tragedy to bring about collective humanity? How come we can’t hold on to the lessons we learned that day… about kindness, caring, unity?
Today, as we reflect on that terrible time eleven years ago, I choose not to focus on the terror. Rather, I am going to remember the reverence, incredible respect for my country, and unity I felt with with my neighbors. Somehow, that just seems a more living tribute to all who were lost that day.