A Reflection: Fifteen Years

I remember the weather.

A preview of an Arkansas fall. A vivid blue sky, brilliant sunshine, birds singing.

Such a beautiful day in such sharp contrast to the horrors that began to unfold many miles from here.

The story of someone who was as physically far-removed from the event as I was is hardly remarkable, although the country had millions such stories to share that day. I was another distant witness among millions of Americans who became connected that day by a common, surreal thread.

As a country, we had been attacked on our own soil.

The details have been documented thoroughly over the past fifteen years. It was a very heavily documented event as it was happening.

And while we must keep the details of that day in our memories, the emotions of living through that time are what today’s average teenagers will not know.

I was twenty years old on that day and loving everything about being twenty years old, beginning to look ahead to life beyond college.

Then, every sense of what I thought life was going to look like began to unravel. Rumors were rampant during that day and in the following weeks. While no one can ever predict the future, September 11, 2001 was not following any rational routine. We can look back and piece together the timelines, but living the uncertainties that day was, in a word, frightening.

What kind of world were we going to have on September 12? The 13th? A year later? You cannot begin to envision these things when nothing makes sense.

I remember a somber heaviness on what had started out as a stunningly beautiful late summer day. Even if the birds were still singing, I didn’t hear them. I remember rehearsing with the band later that week and finishing the “Star-Spangled Banner” as two fire trucks raced past our field, sirens blaring, with their huge American flags waving in the air as they sped down the street. No one said a word.

I remember starting to see planes back in the skies, and the first small steps forward in our new reality.

Fifteen years later, it’s still hard to believe it happened. But, we must pause today to remember and to honor those who were lost on that horrific day.

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