Of all the images of 9.11 that stand out in my mind, this is the one that calls to my soul. Its close replication of the Iwo Jima image makes me think of both the bravery of those who rushed to the assistance of the victims that day, and also of the bravery of those fighting the war we ended up entering.
9.11 is something that I know is a huge "There but for the grace" moment in my life. If 9.11 had happened on 9.12, I would have been 3 blocks from Ground Zero. I was packed, at work and waiting to leave for my flight when the planes were grounded. I was heading to NYC for work and I was both thrilled to be going to NYC (if only for work!) and a little nauseous because it was my first business trip.
My mom called and told me that I couldn't go. I laughed at her, because at that time, the news was that a small plane had hit the first tower. It wasn't until an hour later that I knew things for this country were worse than they ever had been in my memory.
Everyone at work sat in stunned silence. To give it some perspective, at the time I worked in a large call center and it was never silent on that floor of the building. NEVER. Calls were few and far between as the country tried to come to grips with what had happened.
I drove home listening to talk radio, to the calls that were full of grief and some that were so, so angry. I picked up my children from daycare to their surprise, as I wasn't supposed to be in the state.
It was Mr. A's second week of kindergarten. I wasn't much of the "Mom & Apple Pie" sort, but that day (and since), it was very important to me that he was saying the Pledge daily and that he (and eventually Bugaboo) understood what it meant.
The boys knew, on a very high level, that bad things had happened. I made an effort to keep them occupied that afternoon, through dinner and through our bedtime rituals. I kept the TV off until I knew they were asleep. And all during that time I desperately wanted to be getting the most up-to-date information. I wanted to know what was being said and what was happening.
I watched TV for hours that night. Tom Brokaw was my link to what was going on. In the days and weeks that came after, he remained my link.
Life has a way of distancing us from tragedies. This tragedy is no different. But I know in my heart, that this one moment in time has changed me and the way I look at life, at my country and the world.
And every year, on the anniversary, I look at that image and I remember those who sacrificed everything that day and all the days afterward through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I remember those people, and I offer my sincere gratitude to them for their sacrifices, so that me and mine can live the life that we do.
I'll never forget.