We Remember September 11th

How a Nation of Individuals United As One

Photo Credit: Melissa DeCastro    View of the Pentagon and Flight 77 on September 11, 2001

We remember so many beautiful things so well. A special day with a friend or loved one, the moment a child speaks their love outwardly, hugs after long years and distances. We are given so many wonderful memories to hold. The day this week holds is a harder memory for some. It is difficult to believe that so many of us here now, were not yet born during 9/11. My son will never comprehend the sadness and confusion we as a nation suffered unless he learns of it. I am grateful for that. Learning from stories is sometimes a softer shield of understanding rather than the same emotion-filled reactions as living it, and this week I am grateful for this gentle shelter. I want him to learn everything that happened that beautiful Tuesday, but I want him to know he is safe as he reads the past that his mother lived. 

We know what day this week holds. We are told not to forget, but for many of us, we indelibly can recall it all. For some, it is forever too much to ever speak of, but for those who can, we try to say aloud what we saw and how we felt. To tell our stories of that day to those that were not born, or those still so young those 18 years ago. We share with those that at that time were protected from the sights in life and on television sets. We share our stories so that those not impacted will know what those that lived through that day realize they cannot forget. On this yearly observance of what began as a simple and routine morning, we are given moments of silence to reflect with our thoughts. We choose our words with careful solemnity and speak what we lived that day so that others can understand the gravity and incomprehension of how a beautiful morning could forever change a nation.

We stood gathered together that night. We wanted to be around others. There was a sense of safety and unity. We stood shoulder to shoulder in parks, in places of worship and in private homes.  September 11th dawned as a day feeling of early autumn perfection. It was the type of beautiful day that people hope for a special event and so suddenly the joy of the sunshine was taken. Moments later a country was stunned into silence. Staring in disbelief in person and on television screens and not comprehending in any sense this reality. There were calls in the morning as the early news unfolded until phone calls could not get through and we instead helped and held those that were near us.

It was surreal and unimaginable. For those living in the areas of New York and Washington, there was a true sense of panic and palpable uncertainty of what we should do and where we should go. Life plans were instantly altered. Families and friends prioritized, careers rethought to help humanity over personal gain. As a law student, I went back to school expecting the strict expectations of reciting cases and analyzing issues but instead sat stunned as professors spoke aloud about their doubts in their careers and their hopes for us in the future. All those that lived through that day cannot forget. That day changed so many lives and previous plans were rethought and new ways of life begun. We remember because we learn from retaining the past. We were individuals that morning, but after those events, we were united as one.

Originally published at

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