I remember seeing the towers fall as I watched on my television. Hopeless, horrified. I remember driving to my job at the American Red Cross that morning and seeing the blank looks on the faces of my coworkers. I remember the skies being silent; all planes were grounded. As the day crawled by, I remember citizens calling our Red Cross office wanting to know what they could do to help.
I remember feeling angry. I remember the awe I felt when I learned that a plane full of heroes averted an additional attack on Washington, D.C. I remember the children who came into our office with coffee cans full of change to donate to the disaster effort.
I remember the last time I had dinner at Windows on the World restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center. It was partly cloudy that evening, and as I looked out the window next to my table a cloud rolled by. We were in the middle of it, like you are in a plane. Cotton candy. Up so high.
I remember visiting Washington, D.C. in October of 2001 while attending a high school reunion. I stood not far from the spot where a shrine had been built to recognize those who were lost when the plane crashed into the Pentagon. Photos, flowers, notes piled high. In the distance, the wounded Pentagon itself.
I remember my high school boyfriend at that reunion. He was a Navy Captain then. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, "We didn't know or we would have stopped them." He cried, and I hugged him. I said, "You did the best that you could. There are some things we cannot control."
I remember visiting New York City in 2006 and seeing the altered skyline for the first time I felt as though I had been slapped in the face. When I stood at Ground Zero I remember feeling chills as though I had a fever. I felt nauseated and confused and empty.
Earlier this year when CNN reported that Osama bin Laden had been apprehended I felt a hot, raging, primitive streak of something rush through me. I don't know what it was, but I hope I never feel it again. It was so powerful that it terrified me.
Those of you who died, I remember you. I remember those of you surviving their loss. Those of you who saw the buildings fall and still cannot sleep at night - I remember. Those of you who have fought and sacrificed since then to keep us safe - I remember you. Those of you who fought before, who served before, I remember you too. You built something for us that is so precious that others want to take it away.
Like it was yesterday. I remember.