Teddy, Emi and I all sat around the television late last night eagerly awaiting the Presidential announcement after listening to nearly an hour of reporter commentary on what they assumed we would hear. The first time I heard a reporter mention that it had been nearly 10 years since 9-11, I was dumbfounded. I mean, I knew the attacks were on September 11, 2001. I knew that in my head. But to realize that it had been nearly a decade was hard to believe. Where does the time go?
It was a day of such historical significance that I remember every detail as if it only took place last week. At that time I lived in Bossier City in a house that bordered Barksdale Air Force Base and I worked at SB Magazine. That morning was like any other. I dropped Emily off at school (she was 5) and went to work. Three of us were sitting in the back office when one of my coworkers got a call on her cell phone. Referencing the call, she told us there had been some sort of bomb detonated in New York City, but we had no details. Oddly enough, none of us had desk computers back then because we spent most of our time out on the streets on sales calls. So we were really slow to get information on the attacks.
It wasn't until I arrived at a going away luncheon at Ralph and Kacoo's that I found out the details of what had actually happened. (Teddy was the editor of SB Magazine back then, and he was leaving the mag to go back to work at The Shreveport Times. So the staff threw him a goodbye party at R&K's.) There were televisions in the restaurant showing news reports, so I saw brief flashes of the towers and the smoke as I walked into the restaurant and into the meeting room. I heard what happened. I saw brief glimpses. But I still didn't fathom the enormity of the situation.
When I was driving out of the parking lot of the restaurant, I received a call from Emily's school telling me she had fallen down and scraped up her head and nose.
This is what the teacher said to me on the phone,"The school is on lockdown because of the terrorist attacks since we are so close to Barksdale Air Force Base. But since she is hurt, you can come pick her up."
This was when I began to freak out.
Anyone who knows me knows that I typically drive kinda fast. Okay, real fast. But this particular day after that phone conversation I was in an even bigger hurry to get to my kid than ever before.
I made it there safely and without incident. When I went inside to get my child, I nearly fell apart. Her chin, nose and forehead were badly scraped up and still bleeding. She started crying when she saw me and ran into my arms. I scooped her up and took her home. The minute I got inside I turned on the television.
And I cried along with my child.
It was at this point that I fully understood what had happened. I watched the planes crash into the buildings over and over again. I saw people jumping out of the windows of the towers to their deaths. I saw the fear on people's faces as they ran for their life to escape the walls of smoke and ash billowing down the New York City streets. I saw pain. I saw blood and I saw tears. I saw heroes in fire gear. And I heard about countless people who had died or who could not be found.
And I wondered what kind of evil must live in the hearts of the people who carried out this horrible attack. Within days I learned who Osama bin Laden was, and saw what the embodiment of evil truly looks like.
Our lives as Americans have not been the same since that day. Terrorism, national security and Al Qaeda became everyday words in our language beginning on September 11, 2001, a day that will forever live in the minds and hearts of those of us who witnessed the tragedy so vividly on television screens around the world.
It was those images and my own personal memories of that day nearly 10 years ago that flashed through my mind last night as the reporters talked and then the President spoke. I can't remember ever being happy about a person dying until last night. Well, not happy so much as peaceful. I have a peace in my heart and mind about Osama bin Laden being dead. Does his death mean there will be no more terrorism? Probably not. But at least the victims of his most brutal crime finally have justice. And I am certain I am not alone in my peace. After all, even after nearly 10 years I bet you remember the details of that day, too, right?
God bless the men and women who serve in our military here and on foreign soil. I thank you for your bravery and I am ever grateful for your service and your sacrifice. May God bring you safely back home very, very soon.