Like everyone else, I will always remember exactly what I was doing and where I was when the first plane hit the World Trade Centers on September 11, 2001.
I was in my car that morning, listening to the radio. As the events of that morning began to unfold and it was clear that this was not just an accident, my thoughts turned - no, sprinted - to my sister who was living in NYC at the time. I frantically dialed my mom, needing to know that she'd heard from her, that she knew something. But there was no service. No connection. Nobody could call in or out. We didn't know if she was safe. Upon hearing about the Pentagon, I turned the car around and headed home. Living so close to Chicago, and hearing about the evacuations going on downtown, I no longer felt safe. Like all of us, I felt a vulnerability as an American that I had never known in my lifetime. I'd heard my mom and grandparents talk about feeling that way at different times throughout their lives, but I'd never known that type of fear for myself.
I felt the movements of my baby and gently put my hand to my growing belly. For the first time in my pregnancy, I felt fear for him. For all of us. In three months time, he would be here. What kind of a world was this going to be for my new baby?
I got home and did what all of us did. I sat and stared at the television. In disbelief. In shock. In tears. I longed for comfort, for peace. I prayed. I grieved. That's all I could do. I remember Jerry coming home from work and insisting that we get out and go for a walk. He knew I'd been glued to the television all day and that I couldn't take much more.
In the days and weeks that followed, I wore red, white and blue and I wore it proudly. We flew our flag. All of us did. There was a unity and a love in this country that was palpable. We were all Americans that day. No separation, no division. Every street flew the stars and stripes of their country proudly. We all comforted each other, hugged strangers through tears, and resolved never to forget.
The memories of that day will be etched in my heart forever.
And I still haven't forgotten.