On this day in 2001 I was anxious to get to school for a special reason: class ring day! This junior rite of passage was highly celebrated at my high school; not only did we get a new piece of jewelry, we were physically marked as those ready to ascend into twelfth grade. It was a sunny and cool day.
So when I got to school I dashed down the side steps to the cafeteria, where ring pick-up was taking place, and waited in line with everyone else. When it was my turn, I blurted out my name and the man handed me my class ring. The first time I put it on my finger I felt a little changed, a little older, a little nervous about what was to come. I didn't know at the time that something else that day was going to change me, make me feel a little older, amp up my nerves.
I had just settled into English Lit when Mrs. Haupt, our wonderfully quirky teacher, slowly slumped her way into the room and told us to be quite. She reached up and turned on the TV, and there it was: live shots from New York, from the Pentagon, from the quiet field in Pennsylvania. Just a few minutes later we heard Principal Pfau tell us over the loud speaker that school would close in a half hour; he told us to gather our things and head toward the buses. Our school is less than 10 minutes by air from Washington D.C., and no one knew what else might rain down form the skies that day.
When I got home, spinning my class ring nervously, Mom was vacuuming. The carpet in the family room at that time was blue and the sofa was a blue/red, soft plaid--funny what you remember when the world is changing before your eyes. We watched the news together and wept and were shocked and couldn't imagine a more grand, more bold display of evil.
We all changed that day, got a little older, became a little more nervous. I think the same thing happened to our parents during the Gulf War and the Cuban Missile Crisis, and to their parents when it looked like Hitler couldn't be stopped. Tragedy does that. It leaves a mark and we are never the same. The enduring image for me of 9/11 is a banner inside the chapel of Trinity Church Wall Street that was given to the NYFD that reads, "To New York City and all the rescuers: keep your spirits up...Oklahoma loves you!". Oklahoma was changed by tragedy and has never been the same.
Let's do some remembering today about where we were and what we were doing on 9/11. But let's also remember where we were during the shootings at Columbine and Sandy Hook, when the Murah Building was bombed, and every other time when tragedy as struck to the core. In remembering, we actually re-member, put back together, that which was torn apart. If we forget, the world for our children to inherit will be a dark place. If we remember, put the pieces back together, confront evil with love, and vow to never let the light go out, their world will know peace. It will know love.
May God's blessings be on us all today and always!