I was getting ready for work when I walked into the living room of our apartment. My husband sat on the couch, watching a single burning twin tower. As I listened to the newscaster explain that a plane had struck the tower, I saw the second tower get struck by another plane. At first I thought, how could someone make the same mistake twice? Target fixation? Why were they flying so low in the first place? Then it hit me; this was intentional.
Dazed and bewildered, I slumped down next to Chris and watched as people jumped from the building to their deaths. It was so confusing and painful.
People suddenly acted differently toward each other. Gone were the usual pushy, angry drivers. It was as if humans were treating one another as humans instead of objects, irritations, or obstacles.
As I drove down the freeway later with my handicapped brother, he started to cry. I asked him what was wrong, and he told me that he had a bad dream. In his limited vocabulary he described the burning buildings, the people jumping from the buildings, and even a man and a woman who jumped holding hands. It did seem like a bad dream. I wished it had been, but realized that the footage had deeply touched his tender heart. He would continue to talk about this bad dream for the next several months.
While traveling to Salt Lake City one morning I saw a group of business-attire-clad men and women on the roof of a building next to the freeway. They stood waving flags, and I sobbed at the sight.
The radio was full of songs about American pride, courage and strength. The troops were hailed as a symbol of perfect patriotism. Some lashed out at American citizens of Middle Eastern descent or religions. Most reached out in love to those impacted by the devastation that was witnessed by a nation that September morning.
I later learned that I had a cousin who had barely escaped the crumbling buildings, and was forever impacted by his close escape. He had been in a hotel getting out of the shower and felt he needed to get out when he heard the noise, but was told to stay put. He left instead and watched the buildings crumble behind him.
The most tangible thing was that we were unified. We were one. We were kinder, we valued life more, we mourned not just as a country, but as a nation, and oddly, we were once again One Nation Under God. God was okay to talk about again, and it felt right.
We didn't crumble and fall to our knees at the mercy of some terrorists, we fell to our knees before our God in gratitude for life, and then stood to lift others in their losses and rejoiced in the survival stories of the few fortunate ones.