Through the Eyes of Someone Who Wasn’t Alive 9.11.01


sept11-memorial19 years.

It’s hard to imagine 19 years have passed since that surreal tragic day.

And though the news reflections and tributes happen on every Sept. 11 since that fateful day, this morning felt a bit different for me. Maybe it’s because 2020 has been bewildering and hard on some bizarre level.

Maybe because I have spent much of this year way more exhausted and battle worn than in any of the years since 2001.

I don’t know. This anniversary of Sept. 11 felt different for me.

And this was the first year that our youngest son genuinely listened as my husband and I recounted what that day was like. Our youngest son is 15, growing into the age where one starts to understand the complexity and harshness and bigness of the world beyond his own circle.

He wasn’t alive 9.11.01.

As we were sharing with him what those hours felt like—and the immediate days and weeks following—he saw the earnestness and heartache in our eyes and heard it in our voices.

For my husband and I, that day was a profound moment in our relationship. We had begun dating less than two months previously, yet we knew we were falling in love. There was something about the bleakness of the events that unfolded that day that stirred in us this sense of “life is short” and “you just never know.”

I think 9.11.01 clarified some things for us. It was an enormous tragedy to try to make sense of so early in a relationship.

Last year, I took our youngest son to a Sept. 11 temporary memorial that volunteers put up every Sept. 11 anniversary in Omaha’s Memorial Park. The park is home to permanent war memorials honoring local service people who died in the World Wars, Korea and Vietnam.

He feigned some interest last year, but this morning, our son seemed to listen more intently. And my husband and I shared more, offering our own personal perspectives as footage from 9.11.01 appeared on our TV screen. 

As he listened and we shared, it made me wonder if this is how previous generations felt when they shared about Pearl Harbor with people who weren’t alive December 7, 1941.

So many tragic events that shape a country and its citizens. So many individual stories from what happened 9.11.01—none more profound than those from people who lost family members and friends, not only in the attacks, but in the aftermath through injury and illness.

I have never been to the Sept. 11 memorials in Pennsylvania, NYC or Washington, D.C.  I feel, though, inspired and encouraged to go to all three someday. I pray they are trips we can take with both of our sons.

And I pray we truly don’t forget. What a surreal tragic day that was. Do we better understand the fragility and resilience of life? Have we learned to love more intentionally? I hope so.

For my teenage son who hadn’t even been born yet, I hope so. I think through his eyes, as my husband and I elaborated on what was airing on our TV this morning, he began to take in the awfulness and realness of that day.

19 years. How has it been 19 years since that day?

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One thought on “Through the Eyes of Someone Who Wasn’t Alive 9.11.01

  1. Bonny Burns says:

    You said, “…is how previous generations felt when they shared about Pearl Harbor with people who weren’t alive December 7, 1941?” My mom and dad were smack dab in the middle of their teen years on 12/7/41. Dad’s dad signed a document so that he could join the Navy at 17. I was born 25 years later, a menopause baby. I never remember a day in my entire childhood when mom or dad didn’t talk about the war. It was very traumatizing and the memories were seared in their brains. So, I’d say, yes, it is very much like the experience our Greatest Generation had in sharing their most traumatic experiences. One of the few survivors of the USS Arizona attended my childhood church. When I realized that as a teen, I was in awe.

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