Twenty Years Later

God is closest to those with broken hearts. ~Jewish saying

Yesterday, I made my own pilgrimage of sorts.

Back to where I was 20 years ago, when I first heard the news of the terrorist attack on our nation.

I was just a few months into my new career as a web designer and actively seeking clients to help build my business.

The local shopping mall was in need of a website, and I wanted the job; however, they wanted separate interviews with the candidates, and 10 a.m. Sept. 11, 2001, was the selected time for our presentations.

As I parked in the lot, I heard horrific news on the radio — a plane had flown into one of the World Trade Center towers in NYC.

Now I wasn’t so far removed from my days as a journalist that news like this could be ignored. Still, I went into the “interview,” where everyone was talking about the attack, gave my presentation, and raced back home to glue myself to the TV (barely giving a thought to how I’d done at the interview, or whether I’d get the job).

Fast forward 20 years. Twenty! Who knew I’d still be doing web design 20 years later? Who knew how much our world would change over the course of two decades?

So I returned to the mall, but not the actual interview room (which had been gutted in an earlier head-to-toe renovation). I mentally took myself back to 2001 and once again, allowed the feelings to wash over me — confusion over how and why something like this had happened, anger over the senseless killing of nearly 3,000 innocent people, patriotic pride in the heroic actions of so many rescue workers and others, and anguish over the property damage sustained and a nation’s innocence and security shattered.

I walked around the mall, nostalgic over the demise of three big anchor stores, sad over the deaths of two (Daddy and Dallas) important to me, and disconcerted over how little control any of us really have over the ills of our world.

After allowing the tears to fall, I closed my eyes in prayer For I firmly believe that if things are to get better, prayer is the best place to start.

How was your Patriot Day?

22 thoughts on “Twenty Years Later

  1. Debbie, this post was so beautiful. And much like you, I did the same thing yesterday. I backtracked to where I was on that day and allowed the emotions to come through and flow. Hard to believe it’s been 20 years, hu?

    “After allowing the tears to fall, I closed my eyes in prayer For I firmly believe that if things are to get better, prayer is the best place to start.”

    A-men! I feel the same. So that’s what I’ve been doing; not only yesterday but for the past several weeks — praying, knowing there is a power much greater than any of us to heal the current landscape.

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings, my friend. Beautiful!

    • I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who retraced my steps from those I took 20 years ago, Ron! I think it really helped me — and I hope it helped you, too! — to process my feelings. When we’re in the midst of a crisis, sometimes things can be overwhelming and we find ourselves reacting. Because of time and distance, now I was able to come to terms with all we’d lost and properly lift up those who died. My heart goes out to the loss of innocent life.

      Hope you’re having a good week, my friend — it’s going to be a HOT one here (and I’m so ready for fall!) XX

  2. I felt sadness all day, but I didn’t actively follow it. I was at work that day, and mostly focused on keeping my staff calm. One of them was hysterical because she couldn’t locate her husband. I thought, for a time, he was at the Pentagon, but in fact he was in a bunker somewhere in Michigan. He was a Pentagon employee, doing, I know not what. I had her son come and pick her up. Another person’s mother worked in the twin towers, but she knew her mom wasn’t at work that morning, she had a dentist appointment. Still, she was in NYC somewhere, and so that was stressful. I was so busy I didn’t really process anything myself until I got home that night.

    • Thanks for sharing, Dawn. It must have been hard, being the boss and having to manage the swirling emotions of your staff. I work solo, so all I had to deal with were my own emotions — and those were hard enough. I’m finding it somewhat easier as time goes by to process my emotions — not that I’m any less bewildered or angry, but I suppose the hurt isn’t as raw. Maybe “never forgetting” is the best we can do to honor the sacrifices made/

  3. Debbie, a precious post here. And I agree that prayer may be a good place to start. Because otherwise it’s far too hard for our minds to wrap around something so horrific. Prayer is something that can move us toward love when our minds so often get stuck in blame and fear and judgment…

    • Good point, Kathy, and thank you for saying so. It’s easy to “get stuck in blame and fear and judgment,” isn’t it? Sadly, that can become an endless cycle, one that’s no good to the person.

    • True. But who would really want to live through every bad thing that’s happened to previous generations (Great Depression, bubonic plague, etc.)? Guess that’s why somebody wrote history books!

  4. My Patriot Day was spent reflecting on the changes the past twenty years have brought, personally, locally and nationally. Currently, every two days we lose as many American lives to COVID-19 as we did on 9/11 and yet… It’s true, we have so little control over the ills of our world. But prayer and working for good locally probably helps more than we can imagine.

    • What a stunning — and sad — statistic, Barbara. This world has plenty of ills, doesn’t it? More than enough for all of us to share around. I do believe prayer is the best place to start, that and being kind to each other.

  5. This is such a tender and touching post, Debbie. I know someone who survived being in one of the buildings. Each year, he reposts about that experience; it really brings it home in a way that the more formal ceremonies sometimes don’t.

    To be honest, I was mostly concerned with the possibility of another attack of some sort: here, or elsewhere. When the day was over, and it had been peaceful, I gave thanks for that.

    • Linda, I must confess I had some of the same niggling fears, that we’d experience another attack. I, too, am glad the day was mostly peaceful. I suppose every little city and town in every state had some sort of memorial ceremony. Odd that some who attended (the littlest ones) didn’t even know why we were gathering. Kind of like Civil War Re-enactments or something, I guess.

      I can’t fathom being in one of those attacked buildings. No wonder that man reports his experience — must be terribly touching to hear.

  6. Even over here, it’s one of those events where everyone remembers exactly where they were when it happened. I was working in the school at that time and one of the staff came into my office to tell me – it was mid-afternoon over here. We watched it on the computer which kept crashing because so many people were trying to watch online. At first we thought it was a tragic accident, until the second plane crashed and it became obvious it was an attack. Eventually everyone left the classrooms and all the staff and boys (all teenagers) crowded round the TV in the common room. Even the boys realised straight away that it was a world-changing event. I suspect that everyone who was in the room that day was sharing that memory on Saturday.

    • You know, FF, I find it touching to hear that people from other countries, too, were affected by this tragedy. Such an event, while being disastrous, can serve as a means of unification, broadening our empathy towards one another. Thank you for sharing your memories. I didn’t realize you’d worked in a boys’ school — that must have been a fascinating experience!

  7. You nailed this one! I think most of us felt exactly the same way, and I couldn’t agree more with your closing sentence. I always think that if we want the world to be a better place, we must first become better people.

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