Nineteen years ago today, I was 16 weeks pregnant with baby #2. Like most mornings, I was in the bed with terrible morning sickness. My husband knew that and tried to let me get as much rest as possible before I had to go to class, so when my phone rang at 8:50, I wondered what in the world could be so important that he’d call me that early from work. “Alicia, turn on the TV.” I did, and before I could even ask him what channel, I saw it for myself. It didn’t matter what channel. It was everywhere. One of the towers of the World Trade Center had been hit by a plane. A plane! What kind of terrible accident had happened? We were still on the phone, both silent, staring at our respective TVs in disbelief. It was chaos. Reporters couldn’t believe what they were seeing, either. A few minutes later, at 9:03, as I was still on the phone staring at my TV, I saw another plane. I distinctly remember thinking how odd it was to see a plane so close to the skyline after one had already accidentally crashed into a building.
That’s when it happened.
That second plane hit the other tower! The news anchor on the TV was as stunned as I was. My husband said, “Oh my God, Alicia, did you see that?” I did. I saw it. It was at that moment that my husband, the news anchor, myself, and the world knew – that was no accident. Someone had just declared war on the United States. It was at that exact moment that nothing would ever be the same for America.
The weeks and months following that historic day were like nothing I had ever seen. People were nice to everyone. They smiled, they held doors, they said please and thank you. They didn’t care what race you were or what political party with which you were aligned. It didn’t matter where you were – you would see American flags everywhere. For the first (and last) time in history, Americans were one. We were united.
What I would give to be one with my fellow citizens again. Why must it take an act of terror – pure hatred – for us to come together and see past race, gender, politics, and religion? We are better than this. I know it. I saw proof of it on September 12, 2001.
How quickly we’ve forgotten what we promised to never forget.