This Saturday marks two decades since terrorists hijacked four planes with box cutters and forever changed our history.
Where were you? I was at a reclaimed water conference in California with a group of estranged coworkers, thousands of miles from home in Florida, and even farther from my family in New York. With flights grounded, phone lines overwhelmed and no rental cars to be had, I made an anxious, multi-day bus trip across the states, not knowing – like many of us – what was happening to my family, or to my country.
Where were you?
I hadn’t yet started as a reporter for the Gabber, but the newspaper ran a special cover that week in memory of the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives – in a nightmare we all watched unfold in real time, for days and weeks to come.
For those of us old enough to remember, it is impossible to forget.
We didn’t know what would come next. No one was sure what to think or believe, and the sentiment to attack the Middle East ran high. The world changed that day in many small ways, and much bigger ones.
Last week the United States pulled out of Afghanistan, ending a war that started 20 years ago. Many of our soldiers there didn’t remember – or weren’t yet alive – in 2001.
Still, while division may be the norm in present-day America, my memories of 9/11 and the days following were of a united country. I was stuck on a bus. At one point, we doubted we’d even make it back home. But that bus full of terrified strangers bonded. When my fellow travelers tell that story today, they tell a story of all of us – scared, but together.
The memories of 9/11 are hard for us – some far more than others. But it’s a story we need to remember, and a tragedy – and a sense of unity – we need to honor and commemorate.
What’s your story? Where were you on the day American changed forever? Feel free to share your memories of 9/11 in the comments with this post on Facebook, or you can email me privately. Telling our stories, I have found, helps to heal us all.
This week in the paper, you’ll find a collection of 9/11 memorials you can attend in the area, including in Gulfport. Next week, we will have coverage of those events – and continue to tell this story.