Thursday, September 11, 2008
I Won't Forget
I remember well waking up on that sunny September morning seven years ago. I don't remember why, but I woke up earlier than usual. I was a resident assistant at Helaman Halls--and loved everything about it. I especially enjoyed unlimited access to the Cannon Center cafeteria. That's where I was, standing in line to get breakfast, when someone told me that "The Pentagon has been attacked". They didn't mention New York, but they didn't have to. I knew that we were in for some big news that day, and for war. "Which country has the guts, or is stupid enough, to attack us?" I thought to myself--"at our Pentagon!"
I left the cafeteria and walked into the lobby to where the big-screen TV was located, only to find a picture of two burning towers---The World Trade Center towers. I tried to understand why two burning buildings were on the news instead of the Pentagon. Little did I understand the significance of the Twin Towers, what had actually taken place, or how many people actually worked there.
In that moment, it was something distant to me. Utah was a long way from New York City. And the camera angle on TV was distant as well, so I didn't initially picture the hell on the ground or inside the towers. I hadn't yet been there in person. I had no idea of what life was like at Ground Zero. And then all of a sudden I watched the first tower completely collapse.
As each new report came in, and with each passing minute, I began to feel the unbelievable shock of what had happened, of what was presently unfolding, and what it was going to mean for our country. Initially I only understood the significance of the Pentagon, and that attacking our military headquarters was a very serious thing. But with all the confusion swirling around that day, one thing became clear; this was much more than an attack on physical buildings, it was an unimaginable attack on ordinary Americans simply because they were Americans.
The rest of that day is a blur. I remember walking to class, wondering why I was even going to class--"life can't possibly go on as normal today, could it?" Plans were indeed changed, and BYU held a special prayer service in lieu of its planned Tuesday morning devotional at the Marriott Center. I've saved the special edition newspapers that came out that day, and the day after. I've laminated them and now I hang them up in my classroom every year on September 11th. They are a dramatic reminder of the horrific images and the magnitude of that day. And I'm determined never to forget. I won't forget what happened that day or the days following. I won't forget what a great land we live in. I won't forget the sacrifices of those who have gone before to make America great. And I'll try to do all that I can so that my students won't forget either.