The Sunday Paper cartoons greeted me this morning. Almost every one of them a tribute to 9/11. Silly, isn't it, how a cartoon can tug at your heartstrings. It is a sad day as we remember what took place, yet it is mixed with incredible pride over the courage of so many.
I was a college student, a Resident Assistant. There was only one TV in our dorm building, and it was on my floor. A poster hung over the TV that clearly outlined when it was okay to watch TV and when it was not. It was not okay to watch TV during morning hours and early afternoon.
As I closed the door to my room I could hear the television was on. One of the girls 2 floors above me was glued to the screen.
"I am sorry" I said, "But you cannot watch TV right now"
"A plane just hit the World Trade Center" she replied in explanation
"Sorry, a rule is a rule."
"Are you serious?"
"Yes. I am."
That is how clueless I was about what was happening that day, of what it meant. I just did not get it, I am not sure I was really listening.
As soon as I arrived in the main building, I headed to the computer lab. A friend of mine was intensely watching the monitor with quiet tears streaming down her face.
"Are you okay Tracee?"
"Ellen...we are being attacked...our country...our people..."
"What do you mean?"
"Terrorists flew a plane into the world trade center, a second one just hit"
I got it, I finally got it. This was not just a news report, this was history taking place. A devastating part of history.
I don't remember much more about the day. But I do remember returning to the dorm where several girls were watching the news.
"I asked permission to watch, I promise, Shannon said it was okay!" The voice of the girl I had asked to turn the TV off just minutes before.
"I am so sorry" I responded, "I really had no idea what was going on, I should have asked you more questions."
We watched. We watched in disbelief as the buildings collapsed. We watched. We watched as Firefighters, police officers, and civilians risked their lives for the sake of others. We watched.
Ten years later, and the pain seems greater. The significance of that attack more personal somehow. How many lives lost, how many tears shed by so many Americans?
Yet, how much courage.