Numerous websites have sprung up where you can answer the question, "Where were you on September 11, 2001?" I decided to compile my own mini-collection from Facebook friends. I got more than enough stories to fill two columns all by themselves. Two days later, people were still responding in great detail.
Tracy said, "I took Jenna outside to wait for the bus for grade one and came back inside to find Josh miffed because Magic School Bus had been interrupted on every channel. Shaun was in Bosnia and all communications were shut down. I was very anxious to hear from him, needless to say...sad, sad day."
Gayle wrote, "I was in my laundry room ironing when my friend phoned to ask if I'd heard the news yet (I hadn't). Had the sickest feeling and watched and listened all day. Resisting the temptation to run to school and gather my kids to me."
Nathan said, "I was living in Surrey and woken up by my friend's phone call from Winnipeg. His first words were 'It is the end of the world.' Had no idea what he was talking about till I flicked on the TV."
As for me (Terrie), I was driving to work with my 14-year old son beside me, radio on. When they announced a plane "accidentally" crashing into a New York skyscraper, I pictured a private two-seater, and when they announced a second plane, I assumed a media mistake and forgot about it. An hour or so later, our staff meeting was interrupted and the rest of the day was a write-off as we sat glued to the television. I was in charge of creative arts at Portage Alliance Church, and we immediately knew our plans for that Sunday were out the window. But how could we guess what people would need when we had no idea what might still be coming? I spent the next couple of days creating a Powerpoint show using Anne Murray's A Little Good News and photos I had to scan from newspapers. (Seems archaic now!)
Two weeks after the attacks, I accompanied my hubby on a trucking trip through the States. Even the most cynical among us would have been hard-pressed to make that trip without a lump in his throat. From the moment we crossed the border until we turned around at Laredo, Texas, we saw American flags gallantly streaming from every home, vehicle, and billboard. "In God We Trust" and similar slogans appeared everywhere. I admired their loyalty, faith, and patriotism.
A year later, Allan Jackson's song Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning? came out. Technically, the world did not stop turning. It has seen equally disastrous events, both the sheer evil kind and the natural kind, without coming to an end. But Jackson's point is, as my Facebook survey proved, we remember.
We remember because it was a jolting reminder of our collective vulnerability and mortality. We can't assume we'll be here tomorrow, or that we'll have another opportunity to tell anybody how much we love them.
A good reminder, even ten years later.