Rarely can I tell you what I was doing at this very moment last week, let alone 22 years ago. But I can.

It had been a hectic weekend. This week had already turned into a change of plans, and it was only Sunday night. At that point in time, we were in the process of trying to sell a house in Independence while living 100 miles away in Washington, Iowa. On that weekend, the family had come home to Independence for a bit of leg stretching before returning to our one-bedroom apartment.

Unknown to us a storm had hit the building where we had been snuggled in. The ceiling and insulation were down so it was a two-hour return trip. We walked in the dor with the six kids late on Sunday night, September 9th.

The 10th was also one of the kids' birthdays so there was also a change in plans for his birthday that year.

On Tuesday morning, I was still asleep being a night owl, and probably up with a toddler, so when my oldest came running in saying, "A plane hit the World Trade Center in New York!" I assured her it was probably an accident. Up until that point, I didn't know much about the World Trade Center.

Like hitting the snooze on an alarm clock, she came back in a few minutes later, "ANOTHER plane hit ANOTHER tower!" I knew at that instant that we were under attack, this was NOT an accident.

Generally, I wake up slowly. I was wide awake at that instant. I drove quickly to my parents' house, I knew my dad was not doing well. The TV was on and this was not helping. I watched a replay of what had happened, hoping for some wisdom from my parents, but they were in as much shock as I was, I returned to my house, just a few minutes away. Doing what everyone else was doing. I filled up the gas tank of my suburban, something that was rarely done in our family because it was a huge tank. But on this day, I wasn't sure if we would need to travel or stay put. Erring on the side of being prepared for "anything" I knew that this was just one thing I could prepare somewhat.

One of the advantages of homeschooling is that you are with your kids on days like this. We were tuned in to what had happened. We watched out the window as the gas station across the street formed lines blocks long as people panicked and filled their gas tanks. The grocery store was also swamped as the shelves emptied. In our house, with six kids, that wasn't an issue, I had the freezer stocked and the pantry filled. So for me, that was one little thing that didn't worry me.

At the same time, with the children ages one through twelve, I remember just starting the laundry and making sure things were in order, "just in case." Just in case of what, I had no idea.

The radio was on nonstop that day. I don't think schoolwork was finished that day. It was more of an education to look out the window and just people-watch and to talk about what we were hearing on the radio. We had a front row seat for the happenings in town. The house was on main street and the normal morning traffic was abnormally heavy for a while, and then it was silent. Eerily quiet for a Tuesday.

We had a balcony on our house with a metal railing. In the attic, there were cardboard yard signs that were American flags. I sent my oldest son up to the attic to retrieve those signs and we placed them through the rails of the balcony. Then we found our white Christmas lights that were shaped like bunting, I think they were called "swag" lights and we lined the top of the flags with those.

With a house on the main drag, it was something everyone saw. It was one of those times that everyone got out their flags.

On Wednesday, September 12, 2001 our country was united. We didn't care where the neighbor stood on their politics, we agreed at this point in time. God Bless America became our national anthem for a long time afterward.

I miss September 12. I miss the days when we all agreed that this was the greatest country on earth and how DARE anyone think that they could come in here and kill us.

Fast forward to 2023. We've forgotten. Now we don't bat an eye when we see spy balloons in the sky. Now we think an American flag is somehow a threat. That happens when we forget.

As I type this, and remember some of the stories and the phone calls that I've listened to since last night. Currently, the memorial service at the World Trade Center is playing and the names of those killed are being read.

Last night I watched a documentary by National Geographic showing September 11 before the attack. For some reason, someone was riding with the fire department and filming as they checked on a gas leak, just down the street from the World Trade Center. From there we saw and heard the sound of the plane approaching and the first hit. We saw people just standing on the streets in shock. We saw people jumping from the buildings. We saw the fire department enter the first building.

I found myself wanting to scream, "RUN!" Get out of the building!" But they had no idea what was going to happen. In theory, with a normal fire in a building of cement and steel, the idea of collapse wasn't even on the radar.

It is now.

As the names are being read, the overwhelming loss sets in again. Two hours have gone by and the steady list of names continues. Each name, a lifetime snuffed out. Each name represents not just one family, but in-laws, cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents, friends and neighbors all who know the person lost on that day. Thousands of families were impacted by the loss. Millions were impacted around the world. Everyone stopped. Every nation watched.

But 22 years later, we've forgotten. Not a single TV station could be bothered to air the memorial service. The flags aren't flying. We're back to being divided. It was mentioned in the comments by family members that our politicians had left the building site during the ceremony.

They forgot.

The brother of Ricknauth Jaggernauth said his name, and added that his family still loved him and missed him and would never forget him. He was a construction worker in one of the buildings at the time.

His brother also addressed the terrorists. "To the terrorists, and to those who support terrorism. I would like you to know that we hate and despise your theology, your philosophy, your beliefs. God bless the United States of America. the greatest country in the world." The family is from Guyana. He knows what a great country this is, even after losing his brother.

Another breaking voice caught my attention during the ceremony. That of Brian Howley. He said the name of his wife, Jennifer L. Howley who was 34 years old at the time. The couple was from New Hyde Park, New York. Jennifer was originally from Lincoln, Nebraska and worked for Aon Corporation on the 92nd floor in the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

Her life hadn't been easy. One of her first obstacles was becoming deaf in her right ear as a toddler. At the age of six, she lost her mother from a brain aneurysm. As she grew through adolescence towards adulthood, her confidence and resiliency steadied her along the way. She ventured out on her own as a high school graduate and moved to New York at age 18. Jennifer believed she could make it in the Big Apple with a little fortitude and a lot of hard work.

Jennifer married Brian Howley in 1997. She was expecting their first baby, and was due to deliver in January of 2002.

He never forgets.

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PK September 11, 2023, 8:07 pm Wonderful piece,Val!!

Yes, we have forgotten when we were ALL outraged and saddened by 9/11/2001
PK September 11, 2023, 8:47 pm Val...A warm and wonderful piece!! Thank you!!

I know where I was that morning. I was teaching To Kill a Mockingbird to my juniors when the Speech teacher ran into my room frantic at what he'd heard on the radio.

Suddenly, it was like being frozen...by surprise, confusion, and anger. Then rage!! It was so quiet. My kids kept looking at me as if I had the answers. This time, I didn't.

In those days that followed, Americans felt more for each other than ever before. The appearance of our flag gave us a collective lump in our throats and a perhaps a forgotten warmth called pride.

Our President Bush projected strength and a strong voice that Americans needed then. But there were also words and feelings that brought tears to his eyes. He rolled up his sleeves and got dusty and dirty. The President was one of us.

We have forgotten the "united" spirit we had back then. Wouldn't it be exhilarating if we could all feel that same pride and warmth when we see the red, white, and blue waving in the wind today?
DE September 11, 2023, 11:21 pm It's burnout from all the bs that followed.

"It's bin Laden! He's in Jordan! He's in Pakistan! He's in Syria!" So we when back to Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Hussein has WMDs!" So we got him... and didn't leave.

"bin Laden! bin Laden!" So we got him. In Pakistan. And stayed. In Afghanistan.

They sold us on 20 years of war. We stayed after every goal was met. Then we left. With everything set up to go right back to where it was 20 years ago.

We're burned out. Tired. Manipulated. Over it.