Tuesday, September 11, 2012


by: Joelle Charbonneau

Today the sun rose in the east.  It will set in the west.  Across the world people will get out of bed, eat breakfast, go to work, to school, to stores and to hundreds of other destinations.  Rain or shine, today is a just a normal day.

And yet it isn’t.

Eleven years ago today, the world shifted on its axis.  War from an unknown source fell from the sky.  Smoke billowed from the twin towers.  Heroes rushed to save those inside.  Heroes became victims as the towers fell, the Pentagon was struck and passengers aboard another flight performed a selfless act that saved lives at the cost of their own.

Today is a day to remember those who were lost to the attacks.  To remember those who saved lives and those who could not be saved.

I remember where I was when the towers were struck and the world around me became shadowed with fear.  I was inside United Airlines World Headquarters under lockdown surrounded by those who wondered if they knew someone who was on one of the planes that had become weapons in the sky. 

I remember the heartbreak.

The uncertainty.

The horror.

The fear.

And finally the hope that tomorrow the sun would rise again and things would get better.

The sun has risen today, but I have only to think back to that day and I feel the knot in my stomach tighten and tears burn my throat.  Because today is not like any other day.  It is a day to remember.  To reflect and to promise those who died that we will not take their sacrifice for granted.

Today is September 11th and I remember where I was.  What I felt.  And what I learned.  And I’m glad.  Some things are not meant to fade or be forgotten.

To commemorate the day, I would like you to tell me where you were when the planes hit the towers and the world changed.  What do you remember?  What lessons about the people around you did you learn?  What do you hope we never forget?


  1. I was driving to the second day of my first real job. I was still so nervous. The reports were horrifying, but I didn't really realize what had happened until I went home that day. The whole thing was so surreal.

  2. I was in a meeting with five other people. Someone stuck his head in the door and told us a plane had hit the WTC. The person who was leading the meeting (who had no idea at that point what was actually going on) encouraged us to stay focused on the meeting. We were all envisioning an accident, with a very small plane involved.

    When the second plane hit and the guy stuck his head back in the door, we disbanded and all ran for our computers--anywhere we could get news.

    It was surreal.

  3. I was at my home office desk, eating a bowl of cereal while shifting papers and files around, trying to find some notes from a few days before. My husband had just left to drive to work.

    I was on the phone with my mother in law watching all the footage on television when the first tower to fall started to look wobbly and I was sure I was seeing things because I was staring so hard at the images with eyes that were welling up already. I saw the towers fall and just started to cry, repeating "oh, no, all those people, all those people . . . ".

    Sadly, while things get more serious and reflective during this anniversary date each year, I think that the promises people made to never take things for granted and to be better people and to stop being wasteful and frivolous about life have largely amounted to nothing. If you watch the avarice and the pettiness and the shallowness of thought and effort in our national politics and policies, from those of single individuals to those of whole segments of society--those larger entities of our way of living, like our government and businesses and religious organizations--you see that people just toss those promises over their shoulders when they find that keeping the promise is a bother and gets in the way of something they want.

    Maybe that is just human nature, that it is the purest example of what the phrase "life goes on" means. We're not much different than we were on Monday, September 10th of 2001--a few things are better, a few are much worse. Maybe it's good, maybe it's bad. But, it definitely "is".

  4. One of our kids called to tell us to turn on the TV. Hubby and I watched in horror. We must never forget because it can happen again--not this exactly, who'd have ever thought anyone could do such horrendous deeds, but you can be sure the same thinking that created this horror hadn't been stopped.

    We do get caught up in our daily lives and we have to rely on those we hope are watching out for us.

    That might only be God--and I know He's the only one I'll rely on.

  5. Vicki - I agree that we have lost sight of what that day really meant. I talked about it on Sunday at Do Some Damage. http://dosomedamage.blogspot.com/2012/09/how-far-we-have-comehow-far-still-to-go.html
    We need to remember how it felt to be unified in our sorrow and hope. That we were attacked because people do not like the choices our country has made to accept differences. It would be nice for our political discussions to remember that we are one....no matter what our beliefs, we all belong to this country and want the best for our children, each other and the world around us.

  6. I was home sick from work. A friend called and said to turn on the TV, that a plane had crashed into the Trade Center. Then, it all became this loop that played over and over again on television and in my head.

    I never want to forget--as I think too many allow themselves to forget--the thousands of soldiers who gave their lives or were drastically damaged physically or mentally over in Iraq and in Afghanistan. I never want to forget that we still have thousands over there who need to come home. We have tried to fight these wars on the cheap and below the radar by sending soldiers (often without all the equipment they need) back over and over, even when they are already physically and mentally injured. Both political parties and the news media should be ashamed of themselves for their complicity in this. It's time to bring them all home and to take care of those who served.

  7. The sorrow, and pain always comes to mind. And the sometime impotence of these wars that we continue to wage, make angry. So many lives lost, and so much pain, and I'm still not sure what we've accomplished. An important and hard day.

  8. I was walking into my Spanish class just as the second plane hit. I sat down and watched the television, but I would be lying if I said I could stop myself from also looking at my Spanish teacher, who was crying. It took me a few minutes to realize I was, too.

    We will never forget.