A Victory Girls 9/11 Collective: We Remember, We Are Not Afraid
A Victory Girls 9/11 Collective: We Remember, We Are Not Afraid
Maybe some have been able to move away from that day, but I really haven’t. I remember everything. All the details about everything – even after twelve years.
Much of it seems like yesterday to me. I got up early that morning at 5:45 West Coast time because for ‘some reason’, I just couldn’t sleep. I felt strangely troubled. I turned on the TV and saw the early coverage that “a small plane has hit the WTC.” That just didn’t seem right because the impact hole was huge! I seemed to instantly know it was intentional and went upstairs to wake up my husband, telling him to come watch TV with me because something horrible was happening…
I watched way too much TV during the days that followed. I couldn’t seem to take my eyes off the coverage day or night – like the rest of the country, I suppose. I knew the names of victims, heroes, and those 19 terrorists who hated us more than life itself. And yes, it was then, during 9/11, that I knew I would love George W. Bush forever – no matter what. I’m so glad he was our President on that day.
Now, as each anniversary date approaches, I get anxious and uneasy, my stomach becoming queasy if I think about all of it too long. Maybe I have a form of 9/11 PTSD. I don’t know. To this day, I can’t watch a 9/11 TV show or even a short tribute video without bawling like a baby over what we lost. Yet in the middle of all of that, the events of that day solidified something in me along with millions and millions of other Americans:
We are not afraid.
We continue to live our lives the best way we know how. We work, we play, we laugh, we live, we love. We don’t waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our beloved freedom, because of fear.
We are not afraid.
I suppose I will always feel this way about September 11th, America’s “Patriot Day.” How could I not? God bless our dear country – we need his intervention so desperately these days. And we will never forget our friends or the generation of our best and brightest who, for 12 long years, have answered history’s call of duty and taken the fight to the enemy.
On this 12th Anniversary of September 11th, the Victory Girls have recorded our thoughts and reflections of that day, forever burned in our national memory. ROS and Dejah have our featured posts, while our other writers’ thoughts are transcribed below. We hope you will remember with us…
“It was a crisp fall morning in South Dakota, and I was at my first day of work at a local bank. I was chatting with a woman in the drive-up lane when she suddenly exclaimed, “Oh my God! Listen to this!” She turned up her radio so we could hear—and in that second, the world changed. Our world changed. I saw it in the faces of my co-workers, and heard it in the voices of customers as they came into the bank. We talked of nothing else. For the rest of the day, we huddled around a radio that someone went home to get, hungry for any news and becoming more horrified as the hours passed. I slept on my couch with the TV on, afraid to miss any new information. All at once, everyday conversations weren’t about clothes or movies or what we planned for the weekend. We talked of death, of life and purpose and what it means to call ourselves Americans. We talked of things that mattered to us. Yet, in my own heart there burned something more than sadness, more than a grief so deep that it made me physically sick. In my core was white-hot rage.
Twelve years later, I still remember the knot in the pit of my stomach. I remember the heat of my tears and what human skin looks like covered in ashes. I remember seeing the terror on victims’ faces as they staggered, burned and broken, to whatever safety they could find. I remember the sound of screaming. I remember asking myself what kind of horrifying decision it must be to choose to jump from a skyscraper rather than face burning to death in a collapsing inferno. I remember the scrawled pieces of paper posted on bulletin boards, frantically looking for friends and family in the chaos. I remember those who waited in the pitch black rubble for hours and days, wounded and scared, for help that could not come in time. I remember the passengers on Flight 93, who chose to stand against evil, knowing it would cost them all the rest of their days. I remember the firemen who went back over and over…until they just didn’t come out again. I remember. And I am still angry.”
“When I think about 9/11 now, 12 years later, it has taken on a much more personal significance than I ever realized it would. It was a devastating, horrifying day. I was only 17, and in a way, it was a loss of innocence for me. It was the first time in my life I had been confronted with true evil. Worse, it also showed me the good in people… and how that goodness could be taken from us so easily. While I knew that this meant war, I couldn’t have known at 17 that I would eventually marry a Marine. I couldn’t have known how 9/11 would bring a war to the country that would still be going over a decade later. I couldn’t have known that my husband would deploy four times to defend his country, missing two pregnancies and the birth of one child, suffering a TBI after being in an IED blast. There was so much I couldn’t have known at 17. One of the things that I couldn’t have known at 17 is how quickly people forget. To this day, it is the hardest thing for me to accept. When 9/11 happened, I was a teenager whose world was changed forever. I couldn’t, and still can’t understand how so many people would eventually forget… would cease to care.
I dread this day every single year. At some point in August, I realize that the anniversary of 9/11 is coming up, and the impending sense of dread sets in. I remember people like Michael Cosgrove, Betty Ong, Father Mychal Judge, Welles Crowther, and thousands more whose names I don’t know and wish I did. I cry for them and for their families. I cry for our troops and for their families. I hate what that awful day did to our country, and I grieve, every single year. So many people don’t, though. It’s no longer relevant to them, I guess. The truth is, I don’t know why so many people have become so cavalier about 9/11. Maybe it’s because it doesn’t affect their lives anymore. Whatever the reason, as a mother of two (and soon to be three), what I can’t help but think about this year is that it is my duty and responsibility to make sure that my children don’t grow up not knowing about 9/11. It is my job to ensure that they can carry on the memories, of the good and the evil from that day. It is up to me to make sure that, even though my children weren’t alive that day, they never forget. It is up to all of us. It’s the least we can do for the heroes of 9/11, who ran in when everyone else ran out; for the victims, who left heartfelt messages for the families they would never get to see again. It’s the least we can do for the thousands of troops who gave their lives fighting against the terrorists who brought evil and death to our country over the last ten years. We, as a country, need to remember 9/11. It’s the least we can do.”
“I had just returned from an early morning hike and walked into the house hearing my cell phone ring. Slightly annoyed – it was too early for anyone to begin to annoy me – I answered and heard my husband’s voice. In a tone I had never heard before all I could understand was, “turn on the TV…turn it on!” Immediately the screen filled with the image of a big plane hitting a big building. Trying to understand, I was yelling, “What? What is going on?” into the phone. From there, the day unraveled in the same emotional way every other American’s day came apart. Confusion, panic, despair, sorrow, rage, and desperation.
After many hours and images, with my mind trying to catch up with the horror, one clear thought came to me, chilling me to the bone. That thought was: nothing will ever be the same again. This event would bring anger and fear, deeply into our country’s psyche, and the result would be a changed forever America. I knew then that we were going to become vulnerable not only to our enemies, but also to charlatans that would take advantage of these changes. I knew it would set off a chain of events that would lead both directly and indirectly to a nation that preferred to stay numb to the realities of the world and would welcome governmental caretaking. What I couldn’t know is that it only took 12 years to come to a point where an American President wants to go to war IN ALLIANCE with the very people who attacked us on 9/11. I didn’t know how far we’d fall from our foundation and our values as a country. Which is the bigger tragedy? 9/11…or where we are today?”
“On September 11, 2001, I woke up late. That was not all that unusual, because I worked a swing shift doing data entry and I could start my shift at 1 pm. But my husband also woke up late, and as he was running out the door I asked him to turn on the radio for me. As soon as I woke up fully to realize what I was hearing, I screamed for him to come back and listen. We sat, side by side, listening to the radio, until we finally remembered to turn on the TV. By the time we turned on the TV, being on the West Coast, it was all over. The Towers had collapsed. The Pentagon was on fire. A field in Pennsylvania had become an instant graveyard.
I was stunned. I did go to work that day, but I honestly couldn’t tell you how my work day went. We were all in a daze. I was scared. My brother was a 2nd lieutenant in the Army at the time, and I had no idea what this would mean for him. (Eventually, it meant two tours in Iraq). I was sad. So many people had died and we still didn’t know how high the death toll would be. And then I was angry. And I would get angrier as time passed and we learned more. And on September 11th, I had the unshakable sense that the world as I had known it had changed forever. Nothing would ever be the same again.”
“The morning of September 11th, 2001 began like any other. My alarm went off, I trundled into the galley sized kitchen of our tiny apartment just outside of San Francisco, and I turned on the TV to get some news. I wasn’t prepared for what I saw that morning, as the set turned on I saw the World Trade Center in New York City in flames and heard the commentator talking about a plane having flown into it. Not long after that I was drawn back into the living room by a crash-the second plane crashing into the World Trade Center. The rest of the footage I saw that morning was just as shocking, people jumping to their deaths (before they cut the live feed), people running all over the place in panic and heroic fire-fighters and police taking charge of the whole mess. Even my commute was strange that morning. By the time I left for work, all airline traffic had been halted and as I drove across the span of the Dunbarton bridge I found the lack of air traffic overhead disquieting. Once in the office, I emailed my father-a former military defense officer-and asked “What the HELL is going on??” only to find out that he and his colleagues at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) had proposed this very scenario, only to be told it was “too Hollywood and completely implausible”.
Like many Americans that day I was angry, disturbed and proved wrong-I had told an ex-boyfriend not one year prior that no one on earth was stupid enough to attack our nation on our own soil. That day had another lasting effect on me. I had re-registered for the 2000 election as a Republican, and had cast my first Republican vote for George W. Bush but I wasn’t anything beyond a fiscal conservative by any means. Over the past 12 years I have come to terms with my new political stance and finally can describe myself as a Goldwater Conservative with a Libertarian streak. For that, and for the reinforcement of my deep seated patriotism, I am thankful. I just wish so many did not have to die to open my eyes and those of so many others.”
“As I pulled into the parking lot of the school where I taught fifth grade, the radio news reported billowing smoke coming from the World Trade Center in New York City – supposedly caused by a plane that had hit it. My first thought was “Idiot small plane pilot!” I parked and went into the school building and headed to the office to check in. A group of teachers was gathered around a TV. The WTC was front and center on the screen, and as we watched, the second plane hit. The significance of that second plane was unmistakeable. A sick feeling settled in the pit of my stomach. This was no incompetent small plane pilot. Within minutes, an intercom message instructed teachers to check their email. The email was from the district superintendent with directions for communicating information to students. Elementary teachers were told not to say anything to students, to carry on school as usual and let the children hear about it from their parents when they got home in the afternoon. We could answer any questions from children that might have heard about the attacks from elsewhere but we weren’t to initiate discussions about it. We would have a faculty meeting before school the next day to discuss how to handle the information with our young students. Our duty that day was to maintain a calm, “business as usual” demeanor. Not an easy task.
The rest of that September 11th school day was filled with going through the motions of a normal school day with quick emails to family and friends to get more information, continued emails from the school’s central office, visits to the teachers’ lounge to check the news, and that awful and certain sense that life had forever changed.”
“A lone plane hummed overhead. I tilted my head skyward, squinting into the afternoon sun. Suddenly it burst into flames. Smoke seeped from every crevice as the plane spun out of control, jerking, twirling, plummeting straight down toward me. Then…BEEEEEEEEEEEP! My eyes snapped open. The answering machine inside our tiny rental farmhouse buzzed. Through the fog of half consciousness, the voice in the incoming message I recognized as my husband’s. Why would he be calling so early? I clicked the “play” button. “A plane just hit the World Trade Center,” he said, his voice trailing. That was all I heard. I raced to the television and flicked it on. Horrifying images covered its screen. A strange, guttural sound from somewhere deep within me shouted, “NO! NO! NO!” I watched in horror as my fellow Americans leapt to their deaths in a futile attempt to escape the smoke and raging fire engulfing the tower that trapped them. In my bathrobe, stunned and shell-shocked, I sat cemented to my couch, paralyzed, in tears, for the next twenty-four hours. All I knew was that our country was under attack by, as of yet, unknown forces.
A precious, innocent four-year-old little girl named Juliana McCourt, on her way to Disneyland along with her mother, died aboard the second plane on that fateful day on September 11, 2001. Her mother’s best friend, unable to reserve a seat on the same flight as her friends, died, too, when the first plane slammed into its target. Three days after 9/11 I learned I was pregnant. My daughter was born five months later; her middle name is “Juliana.” I will never forget.”
“Twelve years ago I had just moved back to Alaska, broke; laid off from a job I was transferred with and newly divorced. My year was ending on a bad note. My roommate at the time was a nice middle aged Pastor who understood I was having a hard time and let me stay rent free till I could get back on my feet. But that Tuesday morning changed many a person’s world, being woke up at 3 AM by my roommate, telling me that the terrorists were bombing the world trade center, in which I replied “Again”? I was remembering the bombing of 1993. I called my Mom, who had worked a third shift to turn on the TV to watch what unfolded next.
Little did I know the terrorists “bombs” were airplanes full of people, and the targets were across the East Coast. Watching it unfold was like watching a nightmare you couldn’t wake from. Seeing the second jet slam into the second tower made the nightmare worse, but watching the towers fall made the whole experience surreal and tragic. So traumatized after the towers fell, I went outside to cry and have a cigarette, puffing away at the anxiety of knowing many of our military men and women were soon going to go to war due to a religious fallacy. And I here in Alaska, unable to help those in NY, or D.C. then noticed the extreme quiet of the world, not one commercial jet or small personal plane in the sky, when they are usually so prevalent. The only thing I had seen were from Elmendorf – F16’s, taking off to check three planes, all coming in from Asia. None of these commercial jet pilots spoke any English and did not know what had happened a few hours earlier. They could have been blown out of the sky if they hadn’t responded to the F16 pilots to divert towards Canada. And to think I could have been driving through Canada trying to get home if it had been a couple weeks earlier, or if I had left a couple weeks later, possibly being stuck in a foreign country. I will never forget that day.”
“September 11, 2001 will continue to serve in American History as an infamous and horrendous event that many my age will always remember, very similar for our elders and the attack on Pearl Harbor. Only difference is that Pearl Harbor was an attack on military and was strategic; whereas, the World Trade Center buildings was an all out attack on civilians by barbaric humans who have no conscientious view on human life outside of themselves and was done in the name of a “god”. That just makes it worse! I call their “god” “Satan” as no “god” would ever condone killing in their honor, only the devil would. But, enough of that rant. Now, onto what I remember of that dreadful day.
I was a 10th grader who was aware of her political surroundings and other cultures, but I was a girl who could not fathom an actual terrorist attack on her nation. I had just finished 2nd period French and walked two doors down to Spanish and as I was laughing my way into the classroom, I saw Senora Skillen’s face as she looked to the T.V. in horror. So, I looked and, to my dismay, there was the first plane and then the second and all the sudden the buildings both collapsed. Once this transpired, our Principal had every student go to their homeroom and once everyone was accounted for, he got back on the intercom and informed us we were on lockdown as Flight 93 had also crashed. You may be wondering, why is this important that we were on lockdown for this? Well, where I went to high school was less than an hour away from Somerset, PA. The emotions were strong and heavy hearts were felt throughout the school. It was then that I made my decision that I wanted to be as informed as I could be to make a difference in our Country. I still have a heavy heart for this infamous moment in our history as it should not have happened, but it had and our Nation has since been scarred from it. Let’s not let subsequent generations forget this day as it had changed our society as a whole.”
And finally, the memories of our youngest blogger, who was only 8 years old on September 11, 2001.
“I never watched the news much as a kid. But the first memory I have of 9/11 is coming down to the news in my family room. I remember having to make my own breakfast that morning, and I remember sitting on the edge of our kitchen counter eating frosted flakes. Oddly enough, I don’t remember much of what I was seeing on the television. Part of me thinks this is selective memory or that what I was seeing was simply incomprehensible to an eight-year-old. The thing I do remember is the faces of my parents. Maybe I wasn’t watching the TV at all, but watching their faces. I was looking for some indication of how to react. My mom had tears streaming down her face. My dad’s face was in his hands. I had never been present in a situation that my parents couldn’t handle, where they seemed helpless and hopeless, but that morning I remember feeling like my family had been personally attacked.
We proceeded to make phone calls to relatives on the east coast, and I explained to my six-year-old sister where New York was using a map of the United States I had in my quarter collection. In a way, I think the day of September 11th was my first step in realizing I was part of a global community. That people in places I hadn’t even heard of before could interact with me- they could communicate with me, help me, and drastically hurt me. The world definitely got a lot bigger for me that day. But I also remember, in the months and years after 9/11, feeling intimately connected to my American community. I felt reassured that I lived in a country of people who mourned for each other, saved each other and helped each other. Looking back, I realize that we all witnessed a turning point in history unlike any other. Life was different, war was even scarier and security was questioned.”
So yeah… we all remember 9/11. We all have a story. And we are not afraid.
*** Welcome Instapundit readers and thanks for the ‘lanche, Glenn!