In my corporate job, back before Mike and I had kids, I travelled to New York on a business trip.
I visited the usual tourist attractions, but there was one place I remember the most…
the World Trade Center.
I remember the sparkling lobby as I entered and the crowds bustling around.
I remember the huge elevators and how fast they went.
I remember being at the top of the South Tower in the Observation Deck, looking out the windows and literally catching my breath, amazed at how high up I was. I took pictures from there, pointing my camera down at the tiny cars and buildings below.
I didn’t realize at the time that those pictures would someday be irreplaceable. That I’d never be able to stand in that spot or see that view again.
I remember September 11, 2001 like it was yesterday. Mike and I were on our way to take one of our cars to the dealership for service that morning. I was driving in front of him in one car, and he was following me in the other, when I first heard the news on the radio. I called him on his cell phone and told him to turn his radio on too.
I remember wiping away tears as I drove, listening in disbelief to what was happening that very minute over 2,000 miles away.
We sat at the dealership together, signing our car in, watching the TV screen in shock as the first tower collapsed.
I remember the loud gasps that filled the room.
And I remember the sinking feeling of realizing what happened.
I remember being home later that day, after learning the news of the other planes, and hugging my kids–my son, seven months old at the time, and my daughter, two years–as tight as I could.
I remember being glued to the TV, trying not to let my daughter see that I was crying.
I remember the news coverage: the speeches, the funerals, the tears of the families who lost loved ones that day.
I remember the heroism of the firefighters and police officers and paramedics. And the heroism of everyday citizens who reached out to help each other.
I remember our country coming together and praying.
And I remember, even in a time of tragedy and fear, a feeling of triumphant hope rising from the smoke and ashes.
This weekend–this 9/11–I remember.
And I’m thankful for my life, my country, and all the men and women who serve and sacrifice in so many ways to make America the wonderful place that it is.
God Bless America.