Thursday, September 11, 2008

The day my world fell apart...

I turned 23 this year. I know this puts me in the 'young' age group, but we'll overlook that for a minute. I remember my fourth birthday. My grandmother bought me my first (and only) porcelain doll. My fifth birthday was great because we went to the circus and I met a giraffe that I named Too-Tall. I believe my eighth birthday was the year I 'grew up' and had my first sleep over party. I have many great birthday memories. However, the one that changed my life was the year that I turned 16. 

Some states have other age limits but in Kentucky you have to be 16 in order to have your driver's permit and sit behind the wheel of a car. 16 is a much anticpated birthday here in my state. I was looking forward to it as much as anyone does. I was in 10th grade and was homeschooled. I had been promised that we would go to the DMV on my birthday so that I could take the written test for my permit. I had studied and I was ready. 

The morning of my 16th birthday dawned bright and clear. It was beautiful outside and I was excited for the things that the day would bring. We had a birthday party scheduled for that evening. My 'friend' (very good male friend) at the time was coming down from Ohio to be there for my party. We were going to have a photo scavenger hunt and I was really excited. But first things first, I had to complete my school work.

I assumed my usual chair in the living room next to the window. I believe I was working away on history when my mom received a call from my dad. He told her, "Turn on the TV. Someone just flew a plane into the World Trade Center." The TV came on in time for us to watch in horror as a second plane struck the other building.

As the day's events unfolded, we become painfully aware that this was an intentional act of terrorism. It wasn't even limited to two of the tallest buildings in New York City. Another plane had struck the Pentagon while yet another had been aimed at the Capitol Building or the White House. 

Many people lost their lives that day. Spouses lost their husbands, their wives. Children lost their fathers and their mothers. Mothers lost their sons and their daughters. Many lost friends. This was the day that I truly understood that there were people with a hatred for America and the things that we stand that would go to the extreme of killing themselves to cause suffering for those who lived within our shores.

As we watched in horror as the smoke billowed from these buildings that held so many of America's business people, our hearts broke. We were scared because a new generation had realized that America was not invincible. We were shocked as we saw people screaming, bleeding, and running away from these buildings. People frantically trying to reach safety and trying to reach their loved ones.

There were many true heroes born that day. As swarms of people were flooding the stair cases of the Twin Towers in search of escape, there were firefighters wearing 50 plus pounds of equipment racing in the opposite direction, towards the danger, risking their own lives to save as many people as possible. There were police officers and paramedics doing the same. At little to no thought to themselves, they raced into the burning buildings knowing that they themselves may end up injured or worse. They cared not for their own safety but only for the safety of those that they were sworn to protect. This is true patriotism. This is true love. The Bible says, "Greater love has no man than this, that he would lay down his life for a friend." 

In the days and months that followed, we learned more about the horrendous day. We learned of the stories of people that had survived simply because they were running late that morning, husbands that would have been there if they weren't in the hospital with their wives as they were giving birth, people that were on business trips so they were saved from the tragedy. We learned of the hijackers and those heroic souls that took matters into their own hands on Flight 93. We learned of the solders that had been sent to Afghanistan and Iraq. We learned of their love for our country as they left the security of their homes and our shores for the unknown dirt, cold, and hard ground of the battle field. 

Many lost loved ones and friends in the attacks of September 11, 2001. Many lost their innocence and their rose colored glasses that America was impenetrable. Many tears were shed and many hearts were broken. As that date is now seven years behind us, how have we changed? Do we really remember? The mantra rolls around as the calendar does to this date, "We Will Not Forget". But will we? Have we?

The day I turned 16 is forever ingrained into my mind and my memory. The sacrifices made and the lives lost will be forever stamped upon my heart. We were ripped apart at the seams that day. As we rallied and found our footing again, we fought back. I am proud to be an American.

So many have wished me a happy birthday. I truly appreciate it! Thank you for your thoughts and the time that you have taken to call or write me a note. While I celebrate, I cannot help to remember those that are spending this day in remembrance of another anniversary, the anniversary of the loss of their loved one or their friend. My heart goes out to them. I will not forget their heartache. I will not forget the sacrifices that the families of our soliders. I will forever be thankful for those soliders that keep the terrorists from again threatening our shores. 

I will not forget. 


aclaypot4him said...

Bless you, Ariel. Thank you taking the time to write this heartfelt piece.
You are very special.And very loved.

Kelsey said...

Oh wow Bless you! This is one way we will never forget!

Derek S. said...

wow...what a day. I remember exactly where i was on that day when i found out. 11th grade, 4th period (seems like forever ago). They even dismissed school early (I went to Lexington Christian). It does not seem like it's been 7 years. Where has time gone?