Ten years... Three thousand, six hundred, and fifty days... Five million, two hundred and fifty-eight thousand, eight hundred and eighty minutes... The world has probably changed in at least one way for every minute that has passed since the first plane struck the North Tower at 8:46 AM, on this fateful day.
My own world has changed so much since that day. It's strange to even think about it. On that fateful day, September 11, 2001, I was living in Julesburg, CO, a town so small it doesn't show up on some maps. If you don't know where it is, let me help you. Grab I-76 in Denver, and travel east. (It's 76 east, but it actually travels northeast, so you'll be heading towards the northeast corner of the state.) Follow that highway until the last town in Colorado, that town is Julesburg. If you ran into Nebraska, you're just barely too far, back your finger on the map up a little bit. So here I am, living in a town of around 3,000, where I worked for the local newspaper, the Julesburg Advocate, as a reporter and advertising salesperson. I truly hated one of those things, because I struggled to find the value in advertising in a town where there was no competition in most businesses; one grocery store, one bowling alley, one movie theatre...etc. September 11 was a day off, because it is my ex-wife's birthday. There's a big change since that day. On September 11, 2001, I was still married. I remember that morning vividly to this day, as does anyone who is old enough to remember it. My memory is dramatically different than many though, as I was unaware of the world-changing experience that had occurred some 3,000 miles away. When the first plane struck the north tower, before 7:00 AM Julesburg time, I was sound asleep. When the second plane struck the south tower, around 7:37 AM Julesburg time, I was preparing a bottle for my daughter Sydni. The TV was on at that time, but at that time I was in the morning habit of turning on CMT to just watch endless morning videos. The sounds of country music seemed to sooth Syd in the morning, so she'd get a change and a bottle, while I would get some coffee and country music videos. Because it was her birthday, her parents were headed up from Denver. When they arrived in Julesburg they were shocked to know that I wasn't glued to the TV watching the news. In the time that I was watching country videos the towers had fallen. The Pentagon had been attacked. A tiny little town in Pennsylvania, Shanksville, had become a household name as people struggled to solve the mystery of United 93. My small town had changed as well, as the roads and skies became clogged. We were planning a breakfast that morning in nearby Sidney, NE. Driving west on 80 towards Sidney we would hear the screech of fighter jets overhead, patrolling the skies for errant passenger jets still in the sky. Upon arrival in Sidney we were stopped at a roadblock. Cars were being checked as we entered this tiny town, which also happens to be the gateway to many of the country's nuclear weapons. Since that day, I've been divorced, moved back to Denver, moved to California, moved back to Denver, moved back to California, and finally moved back to Denver again. I've left the newspaper industry to run night clubs and work in hotels. I've put behind me the horrible experience of that relationship I was in the day the towers fell. I've suffered through some unhealthy and horrific relationships since then. I've fallen in love for the first time. The world around me has trucked forward as well. A cabinet level position was created out of the wreckage of that day. Three times the US Government and its citizens have celebrated the death of a terrorist, as we successfully assassinate al-Zarqawi, capture Hussein, and assassinate bin Laden. There were hate crimes, some 150 Muslims killed simple for being born, and for being in the United States. A country showing signs of Islamophobia has turned their backs on a book that says, "And be steadfast in prayer and regular in charity: And whatever good ye send forth for your souls before you, ye shall find it with Allah: for Allah sees Well all that ye do." (2:110) Can there really be bad there, or is it more likely that a sick group of old men has perverted the meaning of those words? Yesterday, the memorial in Shanksville opened. Tomorrow, the memorial in New York City will open. While both of those are important, it sometimes saddens me that Americans must depend on outward signs in order to respect and remember our history. On 11 SEP, 2001, a memorial opened in my heart, and in my head. In that memorial the victims are remembered, their families are prayed for, our serviceman are respected and cherished. The heroic first responders, men and women who ran toward danger that day, fighting against a flood of humanity running away, are loved, respected, and prayed for.
So, spend a moment of silence today remembering the victims of September 11, but don't stop there. Remember the sense of community that was brought about that day. Remember the care for our neighbors that we all exhibited in the days and weeks following that horrible day. Remember the people who wear uniforms in this country, firemen, policemen, the men and women of the armed services. A remembrance of 11 SEP shouldn't be a once a year event, with the effects of that day on the world around us it is most vital that we take the time to remember it daily. Open a memorial in your hearts, and spend a moment every day there, remembering not just the victims of that day, but the men and women affected by this tragedy every day since. God bless the men and women touched by this tragedy ten years ago, and touched by it every day since. We will never forget.