I love the stories I hear on September 11th. Every person that was alive in 2001 can tell you where they were that day... that moment. Today my Facebook Newsfeed has been flooded with pictures, sayings, and status messages of remembrance. I remember in the days that followed, "we will never forget" became the motto. However, I don't think any of us could choose to forget "that day" if we tried.
I remember the events of that day like they were yesterday. While I will share my story below, I want this post to be about more than that. I don't want to just remember the tragedy, but the miracles. I don't want to just remember the terrorist, but the heroes. I don't want to remember only what we lost that day, but all that we gained. But here we are, over a decade later, in the midst of a presidential race, that if measured, would be a large incision right down the middle of this great country. Let's not let this day pass without truly remembering how we didn't judge, we didn't criticize, we didn't put our own needs first... Americans selflessly gave. Honor today and give!
As with many other Americans, the day started for me in the usual way, but things quickly changed. I just arrived to my desk at work and received a call from Brandon, my husband at that time. He was an EMT. He had just finished his overnight shift but was called back in. He told me on the phone that a plane crashed into one of the World Trade Center buildings in the city, and they were sending him there. It actually sounded pretty normal for his line of work, so I didn't think much of it as we ended the call. Just a few minutes after that, I went down to the cafeteria at Computer Associates, my employer at that time, and noticed a crowd forming around one of the TVs. I joined in to see what was going on, knowing Brandon was probably almost there by then. I stood there and watched as the second plane crashed into that massive skyscraper, causing the already intense smoke to cover the skies of NYC. Hours later I would see that very same smoke from my house. Just seconds after that the headlines running across the screen now said the word "terrorist"! Wow! Some people around me were completely glued to the breaking news; however, others began to panic. It was their family and friends, husbands and wives, sons and daughters that worked in those buildings. People began making calls, crying. Then, the first tower fell. I raced to my desk to call my husband... I knew he was headed straight there. I dialed the phone but all I heard was a busy sound. I dialed again, and again. Nothing. The lines were all dead. At that point I had no clue if he was alive or if I was now a widow.
I remember remaining calm. Our office was a mix of terror and fear, consoling of tears, and uncertainty of what was next. We soon received a message updating us of the status of our Computer Associate Offices in the WTC and telling us we may leave for the day. Instead of going home, I went to my parents house. I started to receive calls from friends and family asking if Brandon was alive. I didn't know. I didn't know what to tell them. Hours passed. I slowly heard from others... my dear friend Theresa's husband was alive. He was able to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and make it back to Long Island. I heard that my current father-in-law was spared as well. He was working a construction job on the roof on another WTC building. He watched the planes crash with his own two eyes and had to run for shelter as glass and metal fell above him. My own dad arrived home from work... the Lord spared him by cancelling his meeting in those very towers that day. As I sat next to my phone, not moving from the TV, I still has not heard from my own husband. Every time the phone rang, my heart would race - stories of loved ones saved or concern from them of my own husband's life. So many calls came through from all but the one I needed to hear from.
Around 3pm that day, I got a call from Brandon. He was alive! He lived. God was not finished with him yet. He had purpose and a calling. Also, because of this, my precious Caleb is here today. His partner, however, did not make it. Neither did many of his friends that rushed into the city with him that day.
Two days later, Brandon came home from the city. He was hungry, exhausted, and completely covered in a grayish white powder, but he was alive. During those two days, he rescued. He saved lives. However, so many did not live. We spent the months following that day attending funeral after funeral. Some found, some never found. Our hearts hurt for months.
The story of Brandon's partner is one that I hope to pass down to my children. You see, when Brandon and him were sent to the scene, he knew his wife was in one of the buildings. He went in to save her. Little did he know she had already escaped. She lived, he perished... to save her.
When I think about Sept 11th it seems like yesterday and it seems like tragedy. I can't help but well up with tears. However, I want to choose to remember not just the tragedy, but the wonder of this great nation on that day!