Eight years ago, on September 11. 2001, I awoke to the sound of my phone ringing at about 5:50 in the morning, Arizona time.
As I followed the advice of a friend who was calling to tell me to turn on the television, I couldn't believe what I was seeing.
I will never forget how quickly I awoke - truly wide awake, like a feeling I don't believe I had ever experienced...
We all felt that feeling, and while it was humanly unique to each of us, I know subconsciously we felt a common bond.
Fear, anguish, amazement, shock, astonishment, despair, concern... the emotions just ran through me as I watched the first tower smolder, and listened to the confused reporters talk to callers who witnessed what had happened just minutes before.
In an instant, the scene became extremely surreal. As United Flight 175 plowed into the side of the South Tower, it became overwhelmingly clear that America was under attack.
My first thoughts went to my parents. I called their house, they were both at work. My brother, my sister... "My God, what the Hell is happening?" I asked myself. I spoke with my sister, she was fine. Scared, but fine.
I left my brother a voicemail. Little did I know that about one hour later, he would hear United Flight 93 screaming overhead, followed by the sound of sirens in the distance. He was mountain biking in the hills of Pennsylvania and was within an incredibly short distance of the crash site.
To this day, he doesn't like to talk about it.
I spent the entire morning watching the most horrific events I had ever seen unfold right before my eyes. The fact that they hit The Pentagon... they actually caught us so off guard that they flew a jet plane into the side of our Military Headquarters...
I can not - I will not... ever understand the mindset that brings a person to act as those 19 evil persons did that day.
I went to work that evening. I was a manager of a Wendy's and it was business as usual, if having your clientele - each and every last one of them - thank you for being there. Just for making their hamburger and filling their drink... yet there was so much more to the words "thank you" that evening.
I spent the better part of my evening explaining to my young staff (two young ladies of Mexican descent and a high school boy) what I understood of what happened that morning. For the two young ladies, there was an extreme lack of ability to understand such hate. By nature these girls were both such kind people. The teenage boy seemed to have a better understanding; perhaps he had come from a military family, or maybe he just got it.
That is my recollection of September 11th, 2001.
About a week ago, I was searching YouTube for something generally unrelated, when I changed my search topic, and then ran across this video.
As intense as I know my feelings were that day, I sat with tears running down my face as I watched this homemade video, shot from just a handful of blocks away from Ground Zero. I can't begin to imagine witnessing those moments, literally within walking distance...
If you have the time, and the strength...
This year feels different. For the first time since that fateful day, I do not feel we are as safe as we were under the Presidency of George W. Bush.
That is a tragic feeling, one that I hope I am able to overcome.
God Bless The United States of America. Never Forget.