16 years ago today, the United States experienced the worst act of terrorism on our soil (not necessarily the worst ever in the world, but the worst on our soil). Over 3000 people lost their lives on September 11, 2001. It’s a day that as Americans, we will never forget.
I certainly will never forget it. I was working as an administrative assistant at a substance abuse treatment center. We were all (clients, staff, everyone) in a seminar about HIV/AIDS. Shortly after the seminar got started, my boss’s mother paged her. She excused herself to go call her mom and when she came back she handed me a note that said “a plane just flew into the World Trade Center”. I looked at her and whispered “Really?!” and she nodded. I don’t think I could tell you a single thing that was discussed in the seminar that day.
We concluded the seminar and turned on the television we had in one of the treatment rooms. We were just in time to see the first building fall. God, my heart just stopped in my chest. And then seeing the destruction of the Pentagon and knowing that it was only the bravery of the men and women on Flight 93 that saved the U.S. Capitol from a similar fate.
While many places I knew closed for the rest of the day, we remained open because we wanted to give our clients plenty of time to talk about their feelings about what was going on. We didn’t want them to relapse over this horrible tragedy (we ended up having one relapse, but the majority of our guys held firm in their recovery).
Even now, 16 years later, it’s still hard to grasp the enormity of lives lost that day. The number of heroes that gave their lives so others might live, both those in uniform and civilians. It’s one of those times that bonds us together as humans. Everyone I know can tell you exactly where they were when the planes hit the towers and the Pentagon, and when the towers fell.
There are memorials for all three sites of destruction, tho’ I haven’t been to them yet. Someday I will be able to visit them. Until then, I will continue to remember what happened 16 years ago.