Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Where were you?

It was 12 years ago today, and I remember it almost like yesterday. And I'll never forget it.

9/11, new york, rip, september 11th, skyline

I was in 10th grade. It was the beginning of 3rd period, we had all just settled into our seats in chorus. The chorus director came out of his office, a man respected by all who would attend Chittenango High School during his time there, a man we all called 'C'. One look at his face and there was instant silence, even in a room built for the acoustics. It was then that he broke the news.

Being only 15, it was something hard for us to wrap our heads around. Being New Yorkers, even from upstate, we knew what the Towers were, and some of us had family in the city. We felt the shock, sadness, fear and anger along with everyone else.

The rest of the day passed like a dream. I remember it almost like I was watching it happen from above. Little work was accomplished. Any teacher who had a TV or a radio had it on. 

The mood was somber when I got home. To say the least. My dad was home, I don't remember why. But he was glued to the television. By that time, the towers had both collapsed, with hundreds of civilians and first responders inside. Being a firefighter himself, he deeply felt every loss. I feel like that sentence doesn't do justice to the pain he was feeling. He was also still dealing with the loss of his good friend and partner in a house fire, just that past March.

It's hard to stomach someone losing their life, and even harder to fathom someone losing their life trying to save others. But being a fire fighter takes a special breed. Obviously not anyone can run into a burning building while others are running out. And if you know a firefighter you know they love what they do. It's almost a strange love, to an outsider. You're not just a firefighter from 9 to 5, but 24/7. My parents got their first microwave, because my father was always having to run out in the middle of dinner, to go help someone else.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention all those first responder spouses here as well. It takes a strong person to stand behind a firefighter, always with that voice in the back of your mind when you kiss goodbye in the morning, wondering if it would be the last. My mother did it for over 25 years before my father retired, and I ask myself sometimes if I really could do the same. I'm not sure that I could.

Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia
Custer National Cemetery, Crow Agency, Montana
Woodlawn National Cemetery, Elmira, New York
Fallen Firefighters Memorial, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Today I am thinking about everyone who lost their life that day, as well as everyone who lost a loved one. I am thankful for the men and women who have fought for our freedom in the years that have followed. I will never forget the sacrifices made that day, and all the days since. 

God Bless America. 

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