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Posted: September 11, 2011 12:30 a.m.

Rowe: Looking back on Sept. 11

September 11 used to be just another date on the calendar, but two very different events soon changed that.

On Sept. 11, 1989, God blessed my husband and I with a beautiful baby girl. Our daughter was born at 6:54 a.m. and I remember the exact moment she let our her first cry. Her ‘birthday' is one I will never forget, spending those first hours getting to know my new daughter and bonding with her. I have watched her grow into a beautiful young woman that I am proud to call not only my daughter, but my very best friend. Looking back I recall many happy memories, milestones, achievements, little moments, big moments and many in between. The memories I cherish are as clear and surreal to me today as they were then.

Twelve years later, the morning of Sept. 11 became another day of significance that is burned into my mind. At 8:45 a.m., terrorists attacked the first of the twin towers in Manhattan, followed by a second attack at 9:03 a.m., a third crash at the Pentagon and yet a fourth attack in Shanksville, Penn.

It's hard to believe ten years have passed since then. For me it is no longer a distant memory or just another date on the calendar. The memory is just as clear today as it was ten years ago when the world changed forever because of four separate planes hijacked by terrorists that crashed and cost America almost three thousand innocent lives. Our world changed on Sept. 11, 2001 and it was an eye-opening experience for me as well as millions of others.

Time goes on and some things fade into our past, but we need to remember the events of 9/11 every day and every year. It's disturbing how far we have drifted from the pride and unity we felt in the aftermath. We need to remember, to cry, to pray, to be more conscious and aware of every moment of our life and not take one moment for granted.

Time halted that day as a nation desperately awaited more news and details. Families rushed home from work and school and watched as the events unfolded throughout the day. We saw the aftermath of the plane that crashed into the Pentagon, smoke, rubble and panic where two majestic towers once stood and sketchy reports of a fourth plane which failed to hit it's intended target after it was brought down by the brave souls aboard who attempted to take back the plane from the hijackers. We all kept anticipating another wave of attacks, which, by the grace of God, never happened.

The rest of the day can only be described as surreal as Americans were in a state of shock, fear and numbness as we watched the events unfold. In the days and weeks following 9/11, the networks replayed video of the terrorist's attacks repeatedly. The tone was marked by a range of emotions, shock, grief, emptiness and anger. Some groups encouraged Americans to move on, seek forgiveness; others encouraged Americans not to forget the events of that morning and the events that changed our world.

Out of the ashes of tragedy an almost unprecedented sense of American pride and unity arose, just the opposite effect of what the terrorists intended. The focus of our nation changed from trivial matters to a more serious one. Ten years ago, We the people, were united-we closed ranks, we waved our flags and displayed our colors and stood shoulder to shoulder, blacks, whites, Muslims, Jews, Christians, Democrats and Republicans mourning for our fellow Americans whose lives were stolen and cut short.

I remember our family joining others at a church to pray for the victims, survivors and our nation on this tragic day, signing up to give blood and later decorating our Christmas tree with white lights, red and blue balls and miniature American flags. I still remember Alan Jackson on an awards show performing "Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning" - the song he wrote just weeks after 9/11 - and crying as the words poured from his heart with video footage playing in the background.

It is a catastrophe in itself that we have allowed ourselves, as a country, to become so divided and to stray so far from our principals and have not maintained that unity that we gained in the midst of great sorrow of 9/11. It's disturbing how far we have drifted from the pride and unity we felt in the aftermath. Maybe people want to forget the ugliness of it and the political ramifications that followed, but we should never forget. Take time to remember what we have lost as a nation and the 3,000 or so people who had their lives taken from them on that Tuesday morning, ten years ago. Remember the firefighters, policemen and other emergency personnel who went up into those twin towers even as they were about to fall down around them, sacrificing their own lives in an effort to save others. Remember the passengers of flights American 11, United 175, American 77 and on United 93, who chose to die fighting in an effort to save others. Remember the men and women of our armed services, who have laid their lives on the line to keep us safe every day.

What happened following 9/11 should make you proud to be an American - people reaching out across boundaries to help their neighbors and restoring a sense of pride among all mankind.

Every year I am reminded of these two very special yet different events that changed my life. Sept. 11 was never "just another day'"and it is even more special now, because of my very special daughter and the victims and their families of 9/11 whose lives were forever changed in one day. If we learned anything from the events of 9/11, it is to make the most of every day and every moment in it.

Beth Rowe may be reached at opieorowe@att.net.

 

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