It seems like everyone remembers what they were doing on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001.
That’s hardly unique, though. I’m 24 right now. I was 4 when it happened. Most people don’t remember much from when they were 4.
The only thing I remember from that day was sitting behind my dad’s chair in front of the TV, playing with my Barbies, as he watched the tragedy coverage on the news.
I don’t remember if my mom cried.
I don’t remember what network he was watching.
I don’t remember being in school that day and being sent home. I don’t remember any of it.
Really, I remember 1 thing: looking at the TV and making a comment to my dad about how “pretty” the sky was.
I don’t remember what he said, if he even said anything.
That’s the thing about September, usually. It’s not quite fall yet, but the weather is usually starting to cool down after a blazing summer, but we haven’t quite entered the gross, rainy, cold part of fall yet.
September is pretty.
From my limited memory of the blue sky on the TV broadcast in the living room of our old house, that Tuesday was a pretty day.
A horrible, tragic, painful, pretty day.
I grew up in Fredericksburg, which is about an hour from D.C.
(Anyone that has ever driven from Fredericksburg up I-95 to D.C. knows that “1 hour” is laughable due to traffic, but just humor me.)
Lots of people in Fredericksburg work in D.C.
When I was 4, I didn’t know that.
I didn’t know that in my school system, countless kids just like me had parents who worked in D.C.
Some might have even worked at the Pentagon.
As a 24-year-old, I can look back at that, my heart going out to the 4-year-olds just like me that September day that maybe lost a mom, a dad, an aunt, an uncle.
I don’t know anyone personally who passed away in this tragedy, and I feel lucky for that. I know that many, many other people are not as lucky as me.
I don’t have stories like the rest of you. That day is branded in your minds, that much is clear from the stories I read.
Some of you were shopping. Some of you were in surgery. Some of you were in a high school English class. Some of you were folding laundry.
I was playing with Barbies behind my dad’s chair in our old living room in Fredericksburg, with no concept of tragedy, terrorism or loss.
And what struck me from that broadcast wasn’t the constant replay of footage of the planes hitting the towers, or what HHS grad Kristine Brabson described as “flecks of debris” coming off buildings, which she later found out were people leaping to their deaths.
It was the pretty blue sky.
With the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks coming up this weekend, I feel blessed to have been able to hear and work with your stories this week, and to be able to see the events through your eyes. I may not have any stories of my own, but hearing yours is a good reminder of what it means to be an American, especially in a time of crisis:
Resilient. Brave. Compassionate.