For anyone old enough to remember, 9-11-2001 was a beautiful sunny day with the perfect combination of summer remnants and fall coming into season. Much like this morning, it was an ordinary day.
Most can remember exactly where we were when the first plane struck. Some of us experienced the devastation first hand, while many of us sat in horror, hoping and praying to receive calls from loved ones.
I was a senior in high school, sitting at my desk in an English class. One by one, kids were being called down to the principles office to be taken home. Twenty years ago, the internet being accessible on your phone wasn't a thing, so many of us were still unaware of the unfolding events. When my sister and I were called, I was so perplexed as to why, and like many parents that day, my mother just wanted us home with her. I distinctly remember being furious with my mom for coming to get me as we walked across the soccer field. I was a serious athlete, and we had a soccer game that day with college recruiters coming. As a teenager, my limited, narrow scope couldn't understand how any of the events happening in the city could cancel our game. By noon that day, you could see the smoke over the bay, and the idealization of our impenetrable safety bubble was shattered, leaving me with a completely different understanding of the world around me.
My experience as a teenager is nothing compared to many, but my point in sharing is that we all, on different levels, had a shared experience that shifted the world forever.
Our small area of the Earth, Monmouth County, was one of the most impacted areas. Many lives were lost that day, and many who were fortunate to make it out of the attacks live daily with the guilt of surviving—creating a wound that left an enormous scar.
Though on that day, a silver lining emerged that can only be seen in retrospection of the day- we were unified. A resolute mindset of community, compassion, and support bloomed. We helped each other; we consoled each other; we found space to love and be there for each other. We became better.
As I sit here writing this, I can't help but feel that the twentieth anniversary falling today is somewhat serendipitous(maybe too optimistic of a word, but it feels right) to the world at the present moment of yet another shared experince. We have not ever been more divided not only as a nation but as people. My hope for today is that the remembrance of such a tragic day helps us take stock in all that we have and provide the space of compassion and kindness for others once more.