I was three hours away from my family, going to college at Purdue University. I had woken up that morning to get ready to go to class. As usual, I immediately got online to chat with my buddies. I started to see the away messages, "Pray for those in New York." "I can't believe it." "My thoughts and prayers go out to those in NY." I had no idea. I IM'd one of my girlfriends, asking her what all of the talk about NY was. She told me to turn on the TV. I remember asking her what channel, to which she replied, "It doesn't matter."
My roommate was still asleep. I remember her waking up mad because I had the TV on so early. We both sat there, on the bottom bunk of our beds, watching the events unfold. I remember when the second tower was hit. I remember it all like it was yesterday.
I didn't go to class that day. Instead, I called home. I wasn't sure what to think. I was only in middle school when terrorists bombed Oklahoma City. I was in third grade during Desert Storm. This kind of thing was not familiar to me. I live in the U.S. I don't know war and terrorism. That happens other places; not here. I began to question everything. Was I safe with the people I surrounded myself with on a daily basis? How could our country let this happen? How could a God that so many people believed in let such a horrible thing happen? What do we do next?
I remember wanting to go home. I don't know why I did, just that I did. I remember Mom telling me to wait and see what was going to happen. Eventually, I decided to go home. Having a three hour drive ahead of me, I needed to get gas. I remember waiting almost two hours in line to get gas because everyone wanted to go home.
That is all I remember about that day. The fear. The questions. The need.
Eventually we started to move on. Classes resumed. There were rumors of one of the terrorists having learned to fly at Purdue. Unfortunately, students took out their rage on the Islamic center on campus. You didn't want to walk by that building; not because you were scared of the students there, but because you didn't want to be associated with those outside of the building.
If you recall, airways were shut down for so long. Living on a campus with an aviation school, we were used to the constant sound of airplanes overhead. We didn't hear planes for so long. I had friends from California, New Mexico, Texas, Florida. They were scared, not knowing when they would be able to fly home. I can not remember the date, but I went to a memorial at Purdue. I remember the exact moment when we walked out of the building and heard a plane overhead. The entire campus got quiet, stopped, and looked up. What was once a familiar sight, was now a reminder of what had happened.
I was a kid on September 11, 2001. I was only 19 years old. All I knew was that I wanted to get home to my Mom and Dad.
Ten years later.
Has it really been ten years?
As I sat and watched the reports on the anniversary of 9/11 today, my girls played around me. Taylor just wanted to get on the bed and jump on me. She wanted me to tickle her and play with her. Jaden hears her laughing and rushes in, hoping not to miss out on all the fun. They have no clue. Someday they will learn about 9/11 and will ask Mike and me questions. They will ask why it happened and honestly, I don't know that I'll be able to give them an answer. I don't know that anyone will ever be able to answer that question. I played with my kids today. I knew I wanted to get this post written so I would have a memory of this day, but I thought of the families that were broken apart because of 9/11. I thought of the kids that are growing up, never getting the chance to meet their fathers because they were killed on 9/11. I played with my girls, but I did not forget the importance of the day because I do care. I care about a future with my family. I care about the people that ran into the terror to try to help. I care about the people that ran away from the towers and survived. I care about the people that serve our country and prevent another 9/11. I don't "pretend to care." I genuinely care.
I will never forget.