Where were you?

It’s the question everyone asks when you bring up that awful day for our country.

9/11/01

People will always remember where they were, what they were doing…maybe what they were wearing, eating…

I was sitting in the International Studies building at Texas Tech University waiting to speak to an adviser.  I was going to study abroad the following semester and maybe summer, too.

The phones were ringing off the hook.  Panic looks on people’s faces.

“We’re waiting to hear from the Embassy in Spain.”

“We haven’t been able to get through to the school in France…”

The adviser came out and said she needed to reschedule our appointment.  They were getting flooded with calls from parents who were sick with worry if something had happened to their children who were overseas.

At that point, no one knew if the attacks were just on U.S. soil or if other countries had been hit.

It’s a day I’ll never forget.

It affected me.  Pained me for the families that lost loved ones.

I sat glued to the T.V., like most, as they replayed the awful images of the Twin Towers getting hit, the desperate pleas of people asking about survivors, the brave and the strong NYPD and firemen risking their lives as they battled through the the rubble, the ash, the smoke, the fear.

I was thousands of miles away and the devastation was so powerful.  I could not imagine what it felt like to be there – be in the heart of it – whether I was a loved one waiting for a call, a victim waiting for rescue, or a bystander witnessing it all.

As a nation, our lives were forever changed by that moment.  As a nation, we banded together to not let the “enemy” win. We hoisted up Old Glory, had vigils and prayers for the victims and the families, united as one body to move forward during that time.

Now – 11 years later – I only hope we learn from that day.  Not just tuck it away and stop and chat to one another and ask, “Where were you?”

I hope that we also ask the question, “Where are you now?”

What did that day teach you?

I hope we learned that each day is a blessing.  I hope we learned that no one is exempt from death. I hope we understand that our lives can be taken from anyone, at any moment, at any time.

I hope we understand that in the face of something so horrific, so tragic that so much good, so much hope can result from it.

I hope that we learn from the widowed, the orphaned, the ones left behind – that it takes a whole lotta strength to keep moving forward – but moving forward is still possible – still absolutely necessary.

The wounds will always feel fresh to those directly affected.  The pain still just as great today as it was 11 years ago.  No amount of time will ever make those aches any less.

In my now, I am thankful for those who choose to fight for our freedom abroad, I am thankful for those who protect our freedom at home – donning the badge and fire hats, I am thankful that my loved ones are here – I cherish each day and remember the tears of those who lost someone.

It’s a day so many of us will re-live in our minds on this day – but a day those affected directly re-live every moment of their every day.

Never forget.