I don't know where to start. Do I start with how sad I was this morning waking up and remembering? Do I start with how heartbroken I was as I got ready, like I did that day, but instead of seeing a plane hit a tower when I turned on the news, I saw another random shooting on a valley freeway and a manhunt underway to find a suspect who shot at another police officer? Do I start by telling you that every year I tell my kids where I was, what I was doing and how I felt, but that when I told them this year it was different?
I have started and stopped this blog numerous times today. I just can't put all of my emotions and thoughts into any type of order. Every emotion, every memory, it's all flooding through like a dam broke - or like a plane hit a tower - and none of it makes sense.
Even as I sit here now trying to organize my thoughts, I feel as if I'm on the verge of tears. Something changed this morning. It's been 14 years but today is different. While taking the kids to school, I wanted to use that quiet time to remember and talk openly about what happened that day. I started to share my story and as if I was standing in my family room again on Sept 11, 2001, I could see the second plane hit the tower in my mind, and from deep inside of me a wave of emotion surfaced and I broke down and cried. I couldn't continue, I couldn't speak. It took every ounce of me to not pull over onto the side of the road and weep. There was silence in the car for at least a minute or two and while I tried to pull myself together, both of my kids reached up and started rubbing my shoulders, telling me it was OK. I wanted so desperately to continue with the story, but I was frozen. No sound came from my lips. All I could do was concentrate on breathing. Slow, deep breaths. I had to keep going. I had to remember. I had to share, no matter how much it hurt. Finally I was able to continue with the story, but I cried the entire way. It wasn't a big ugly cry, it was a sad, brokenhearted cry. A cry that hurts so deeply because it's filled with memories and sorrow. The kids listened for the full 30 minute drive, as I wiped away tears, and shared what happened that day.
After dropping them off, I sat in my car trying to figure out why today was so different. Why did remembering today hurt so much more than any other time over the last 14 years. Again, just emotions and thoughts flooding through my mind that I couldn't put into any particular order. On the way home, I remembered that Combs Traditional Academy was holding a 9-11 ceremony. I pulled in to the parking lot and quietly walked over to the flag pole. I watched as all of the students, wearing their red, white or blue Combs t-shirts, marched into place. They were respectful, they were quiet, they were almost eager to begin the ceremony. The principal opened the ceremony with a brief introduction of why we were all outside, read the proclamation from the President of the United States and then we watched 2 beautiful young girls hoist the flag to half-staff. Together we then said the pledge of allegiance. It was during those moments, that I was able to smile. I even chuckled. To hear their young voices, the voices of our future, pledging their allegiance to our country - to see their smiles, to see how proud they were to recite the pledge - together. I walked back to my car and sat there for a few minutes as the thoughts in my mind started to organize themselves.
Then it hit me.
The pain is still real for all who were here on 9-11, but the world is a different place today. Before 9-11 we had issues - who doesn't - but on that dreadful day, when the world stopped, we all pulled together and helped in any way that we could. Then we mourned - together. We promised never to forget. We promised to not let that terror break us apart. We promised to stay strong. And while every year social media is flooded with pictures and promises to never forget that horrific day - we aren't pulling together and working to make a difference. Over the last 14 years social media has turned our world into a disconnected pit of people who yell and scream and attack each other over the smallest of things. It's more important to scream about your "freedom of speech" then it is to think about how painful your words have become. Cyber-bullying is at an all time high, our children are taking their own lives, our country has turned their back on our men and women in blue and our service men and women can't even access health care. We spend more time fighting against each other than we do working together. Social media lights up when groups are formed with the sole purpose of bashing others, while groups who want to celebrate reasons to smile, barely gain any traction. People turn a blind eye, when they see or hear something that isn't right, because they don't want to get involved. I've seen it. I've been a victim of it and it hurts. It makes me wonder what 9-11 would look like if it happened today, instead of 14 years ago. How many people would run into the debris to help save a life, while risking their own? Would anyone? Or would everyone simply stop for 30 sec so they could film what they saw and have something to post?
Why are we so angry at each other? Why are we fighting each other? When you say you will never forget what happened on 9-11, what does that mean to you? That you won't forget when the buildings fell, or the photos you saw? What about how you felt? What about how determined you were to fight for America, to stand together and come out stronger than before?
It's time to remember who you were before 9-11. It's time to remember who you became on 9-11. WE are America.
We need to remember to show respect, to be courteous, to stand up for what's right.
We need to learn how to build ourselves up without judging or trying to destroy others.
Our right to say what we want, when we want to, doesn't mean we should.
We are losing ground.
We need to come together, without name calling or insults.
We need those in leadership to be there because they want to do the work to make it better, not to pad a resume or to simply hold a flashy title.
We need to stand up for what's right and reach out to stop what's wrong.
We need to embrace civil servants not career politicians and vote those people into office.
We need to remember what and who we are fighting for.
My wish for all of you is to never forget how you felt on 9-11. Today, I didn't, and that is why today hurt so much more than before.