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Remembering September 11th

Updated on May 10, 2016
Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna is a writer who wears many other hats and has a wealth of experience that she draws from, sometimes funny, sometimes serious.


It is September 11th once again. I sit here, having spent the day with my loved ones, enjoying good food, watching football, and, of course, watching hours of news coverage. I spent most of last night watching hours of news coverage, into the wee hours of the morning. Watching and remembering that day, remembering where I was, what I was doing, how I felt, and the way things were in the days that followed. I cried at commercials, news stories, and even the Sunday comics. I cried remembering all the horror that befell this country that fateful day. Though years have passed, it hardly feels that way. I cried for the lives lost that day, and the years of war that have followed. I cried for the innocence lost to so many. I cried for the families that have struggled to make it through each day since. I cried watching the football game earlier today, as I listened to the amazingly passionate rendition of our National Anthem, and the passionate cheers of the crowd.

World Trade Center
World Trade Center
Twin towers
Twin towers

My 'Where Were You When' Story

Everyone has their own story. It is our JFK assassination, our moon landing, etc. I remember that day. It hardly seems as if all these years have already past. I am a far different person than I was that day, and part of that is because of the terrorist attack on America.

That morning started out like so many others before it. I had just put my son on the bus for school. I came back into the house, and turned on the television. I guess I was a little late in tuning in, because the first thing I saw, was that there was an explosion at the Pentagon. That was all it said. I grabbed my phone and called my fiancé at the time. He had no television, so I was relaying details over the phone, as he scrambled to find a radio station that was covering the events.

We talked over each other as we attempted to figure out what was going on, and who was responsible. All the usual suspects came up, Korea, Iran, Lebanon, etc. Little did we know, it wasn't a country, but an ideology. Horrific images kept flashing across the screen, each more awful than the last. Flames and smoke pouring out of once tall, proud buildings. Screams of terror as fire destroyed so much. The most horrific images were those of desperate, trapped people, with no other way out, jumping to their deaths rather than suffocate and burn in the buildings. Seeing those people, jumping to their deaths is one image that sticks with me. The horror of it all was too much.

I was terrified as to what this all meant. My fiancé was already enlisted in the military, and what did that mean for him? Depending on who did this, it could mean so many things. Would he go to war? What would that mean for us? Were there more attacks coming? We had so many questions.

In the days that followed, a strangeness settled over my world. A trip out to the city left me dumbfounded. My son's doctor was near the airport, but on the 12th of September, not a single plane was in the air. The silence of the area was beyond eerie. I spent a great deal of time glued to the television, as stories poured in from those who were there, survivors, rescue crews, etc. I hardly slept.

On the other hand, the spirit of unity that filled this country was amazing. It seemed that every song they played on the radio was a touching, patriotic tribute to honor the survivor spirit of America. Red, white, and blue covered the landscape, and my heart was filled with a certain amount of hope for the future. Heartache and hope were the prevailing feelings in the days and weeks that followed. It was very bittersweet.

I even remember the first time I really laughed after that seems so strange that I remember something like that. I can't recall the exact day, but I think it was a week after the attacks. I was watching a George Carlin comedy special. George Carlin has a way of putting life into perspective, while still making you laugh. It was strange to laugh; it felt strange, and almost wrong. My mother was laughing, too. We just sort of looked at each other, as if we had just caught each other doing something wrong. But it wasn't wrong. I was almost feeling guilty for laughing, but at the same time I knew that it was important to laugh. A life without laughter is no life at all.

Twin Tower Movie Cameos

Struggle and Senselessness

As the years have passed, a lot has changed. As I said, I am a far different person than I was that day. My son has passed away, my fiancé became my husband, and then my ex-husband. I have lost several friends and family members over the years, some who died fighting the wars that followed. Even George Carlin has passed away. My daughter was born, I moved here, I moved there, and life went on. I am eternally grateful for that, while still remembering those who's life did not go on that day. So many lives many families torn apart due to the senseless tragedy. So many lives lost in the years of war that followed. So many lives changed by the events of a single, carefree, late summer morning.

I often ask myself why? Why did this happen? A group of people who don't agree with us, who don't see things the way we do, felt the need to destroy us. They plotted out an act so terrible that it was meant to bring us to our knees. Symbols of our government, symbols of our financial power....targeted in an attempt to destroy our entire existence. I am grateful to say that they failed. We are STILL here, we are STILL alive. We are SURVIVORS!

As a small group of colonies, we fought against a major world power and won. We grew as a nation, and we grew strong. We survived a potentially crippling civil war, and came out on the other side as a stronger nation. We fight, we struggle, but we survive! We may not always agree; we may fight and argue, but that is our right. We are allowed to disagree, and that is part of what makes us strong. It is often with a varied array of opinions and ideas, that true greatness shines through.

Fire and smoke pour out of the buildings
Fire and smoke pour out of the buildings
The Pentagon
The Pentagon

9-11 Tribute- 10 Years

Where Are We Now?

I look at this country today, though, and I wonder where that united spirit, that was so apparent in the weeks and months following September 11th, went. Chants of USA filled the air, and flags flew from buildings and poles, in yards, and on vehicles. Now, I watch the news and see stories of children being sent home from school for wearing that very same flag on their clothing. I see stories of shops and homes being told that they cannot fly the flag. What happened? Some say it's offensive. How is it offensive? This is the United States of America, after all. That flag represents everything we have struggled for, everything we have achieved, every person who died protecting the freedom of our great nation. If that offends you, why are you here? You want to know something? The fact that things like that could happen in our country; that citizens are being told that they cannot fly the flag of the very country they live in; that offends me!

I look at the world today and see all the complaining people do over petty things. It upsets me. Airport security is one issue. Rules and procedures are put in place in response to the various attempts at attack that have followed September 11th. I agree, it's a pain to sit through a long security line, to take off my shoes, disrupt all my belongings that I carefully packed for my flight, and subject myself to scans or invasive physical pat-downs. I would rather go through all of that than dare think about the possible alternative. In America today, there are far greater issues at hand than a little inconvenience at the airport.

Watching all the news coverage of the tenth anniversary, and the anniversaries that followed, I found myself thinking back on it all, and thinking about where we have come since then, and where we are now. The unifying spirit that filled this country has faded. It saddens me to say this, but it faded all too quickly. I have always been proud of my country, proud to call myself an American. In ways, I am proud of the way we have survived something so terrible, proud of the actions of so many great Americans following that great tragedy, proud to have been among great heroes, and proud of the survivor spirit that has always been a part of this great nation. There are also things I am not as proud of. I admit that, but then...that is an issue for another hub.

The capture and killing of Bin Laden
The capture and killing of Bin Laden
Flight 93 Memorial
Flight 93 Memorial
Pool at World Trade Center Memorial
Pool at World Trade Center Memorial

National Anthem at NFL Game: 9-11-11

© 2011 Anna Marie Bowman


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