I know we all have our own “where were you” stories of today but I wanted to share a brief part of mine.
I think it’s hard to not remember the horrors of that day, the panic and fear so I’d like to instead remember one of my best images.
I was a freshman at James Madison University for about 2 weeks when 9/11 happened. JMU is a public Virginia school, where about 1/3 of the students come from the Northern Virginia area, and the majority of out-of-state students are from the tri-state area (NY, NJ, CT). So you can imagine the panic in my dorm of homesick 18 year olds frantically trying to get in touch with their families.
A group of students started to post notices, send IM’s, whatever they did to let students know that there was going to be an impromptu vigil that night. I went with a small group of my brand new friends, terrified all day by what we were seeing on TV, to see this:
All up the hill it was solid with candlelight, students holding each other’s hands, comforting each other. For hours we sat and listened while students got up to share their fears, their relief at finding a loved one, their uncertainty about what this all meant for us.
I had been there 2 weeks and it was the first time I felt a part of this community of students, where I knew no matter what happened there were people who would support me.
It remains one of my favorite memories, the first glimmer of hope after such a terrible day.
So today I want to remember not only those were lost and what happened to our country in 2001, but also the moment where I felt loved, united, and a part of something special.
I hope there are positive moments you too can remember from that day.