I'm rarely at a loss for words, but today I find myself struggling to put my thoughts into phrases. There are so many things I want to express and feelings I wish would flood themselves onto the screen, ridding my mind of its humbled chaos. Sadly it's not that easy, so I'll start with telling you where I was ten years ago today.
The hallway seemed a little more hectic that day. We played bumper cars with each other, hustling to make it to class before the bell rang. Our fear, now seeming incredibly trite, was being late and receiving detention. Oh how our fears would be altered.
I followed Britnee Daniel into Mr. Whittenburg's biology class and took my seat. He wasn't sitting behind his desk which was unusual, but we didn't pay much attention as we hurried to complete procrastinated homework. Suddenly, it hit me. The TV was on and Mr. Whittenburg was standing directly beneath it, staring upwards as if in a trance. Smokey clouds filled the screen and as I looked around the classroom I realized we were all confused as to what our teacher was watching so intently. As words scrolled across the bottom of the screen, I read and began to piece together what was going on. A plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. The minutes rolled by in silence; we were unsure of what to make of it all. Mr. Whittneburg began to explain to his class of high school freshmen the magnitude of the situation, just how alarming and earth-shattering this was. And then it happened.
We watched, live, as the second plane hit.
The rest of that day is a blur. I didn't fully grasp the events that had so tragically unfolded on our country. My older brother, Shane, was a freshman at West Point and was only a few miles, as the crow flies, from the devastation. My mom talked to him that night and he told her that he had stood on the roof of his quarters and could see the smoke from Ground Zero. He said that the previous day he had purchased postcards of the NYC skyline to send home with the Twin Towers peaking in the foreground. We found this both ironic and crushing.
As I lay in bed that night, I pondered on how Shane must have felt. I wondered how this one day would impact his life and change his future. I knew we were blessed that our family was safe, unlike many that lost loved ones that day. I felt afraid and affected, yet somehow connected to so many other Americans that were likely lying in their beds, heads brimming with similar thoughts as mine. Though I felt afraid, I did not feel alone.
Tonight, as I sit at the computer eating a fudge pop, I'm occasionally looking over to see my husband watching the Cowboys game. I am reminded of just how much has changed in the last ten years. My heart hurts much more for the wives who lost husbands, the children who lost mothers, and the families of the brave NYPD. Though I will never fully understand their loss, I do understand their strength. I am so proud of my big brother, Captain Shane Mercer, and how he has served our great nation over the last ten years. He is my hero, and I am eternally grateful for his service and sacrifice.