Like so many, I'll never forget September 11, 2001.
I was a sophomore living in my sorority house and one of the few who, not only had early morning classes, but who also watched the news.
I saw the smoke from the first tower on Good Morning America. Walked down to the kitchen and told our cook and the other girls grabbing breakfast that something happened in New York. An explosion, or maybe a plane hit one of the twin towers. No one had heard about it.
I went to class and no one -- not even the teacher who had a long commute to Athens -- had seen or heard the news. So I went to my next class in the history building.
It was a mad house -- classes being cancelled, professors talking to each other comparing this to Pearl Harbor and talking about terrorists. I had heard of Osama bin Laden. I had read a Time magazine article about him. I thought he had to be involved. My class was cancelled. I went back to the house I shared with 67 other women.
We were ALL in the living room. Glued to the TV. One girl had a boyfriend in New York -- his first day of work in one of the towers. (If I remember correctly he was being taken out to coffee with the planes hit. But it was a long time before we knew he was OK.) Another girl's father was a federal judge. He worked in the pentagon frequently. (He was also OK. But again it was hours -- I think it may have actually been after sundown -- before we knew for sure.) I had friends who had enlisted in the army, marines, ROTC for the tuition benefit. Now they were getting phone calls -- told to standby because we'd likely be going to war.
I was 19. 19. A baby, really. And it was the first time that I realized how vulnerable life is. It was the first time I truly realized how big the world is. It was the first time I understood the sacrifice that our servicemen and women are willing to make.
It shook me to my core and it sill does. Today, I shed a lot of tears. Quietly. I thought I was being discreet but Ben picks up on everything. And there was no avoiding the images on the TV.
Why you crying mommy?
Mommy's remembering a sad day 10 years ago.
Some bad guys hurt a lot of people.
In 'dat building? Wit the smoke coming out?
Yes, in that building and a couple other places. A lot of people were hurt and died. It was scary.
Well, Ben-Ben, it's complicated. But what's important is that we remember that today is an important day to remember the people who died, who were hurt and who helped and protected us that day and everyday.