Like most people, I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing September 11, 2001 when the terrorist attack occurred. It was a cloudy, overcast day, threatening rain. I was seven months pregnant with my second child and was driving to an obstetrician appointment on the freeway. I was listening to the radio and had to keep changing the station because I wanted to listen to music and not the news. But every station sounded like NPR, even the pop and country stations. Then sirens and lights came up behind me as a policeman on a motorcycle pulled me over for speeding. I apologized and told the officer I had not been paying attention to my speed because I was completely distracted by the news on the radio. He didn’t seem to know what I was talking about, but he gave me a warning and let me go. Once in the obstetrician’s office, all the pregnant women were standing around a tiny room in the back office watching live coverage on a very small TV screen because it was before cell phones. We watched as the second tower fell, shocking and surreal, still thinking it was all some sort of mistake or freak pilot accident. I drove home, dazed and confused.
After learning it was a terrorist attack, I spent the following hours, weeks, months wondering what kind of world I was bringing this baby into. Would the world still be here? Would World War III occur before his birth? At his birth? Would we have food? Water? Love?
My fears were allayed by all the ways neighbors, friends and families rallied around each other for support. Cultures from all over the world grieved with the US. As after any disaster, people put aside fears and differences and came together in connection. And then, once there was someone to blame, anger and fear resurfaced again.
It’s been 18 years since the attack but we are still living in fear and defensiveness. Let’s once again pull together with love, optimism, gratitude, tolerance and forgiveness to create the world all of us crave, where we and our children will thrive in peace.