As a child growing up, I distinctly remember hearing my parents and grandparents talk about particular events that shook them to the core. I can't tell you how many times I have heard my mother talk about the assassination of JFK and the death of Elvis Presley. It always seemed that she remembered every detail so vividly...exactly where she was when she heard the news, what she was wearing, who was with her, etc. Every time she told the story, it was as if she was reliving the experience emotionally. Personally, I never understood where she was coming from. Until September 11th, 2001, that is. How vividly I remember being at work and answering a personal call from my then 82 year old strong, patriot of a grandmother. Her voice was strange and shrill as she explained that one of the world trade center towers had been hit. We were still on the phone as the second plane hit and it became obvious terrorism was the cause. I felt lost. How could this happen to us? The United States of America had always seemed exempt from such occurrences. It was just unfathomable. At work, we had no television or internet access, so we were glued to the radio listening for bits of information. We would not fully understand all that had happened until reaching our homes that night and seeing the utter devastation on our television sets.
The sights were horrific. I believe at 21 years of age, I began to fully understand what the term empathy really meant. I had not yet been married two years, but could only imagine how so many new widows were feeling. Children had lost a parent/parents, homes were destroyed, jobs were lost....nothing would ever be the same. As awful as those images were, I couldn't pull myself away from the television. It was consuming, one couldn't get away. Somehow, 10 years later, we are still consumed. Maybe we should be, we should never forget. Our guards cannot ever be let down again....closing our eyes will not make things better.