You remember the moment, right? I know I do.
9-11, roughly 7:00 AM California time: I was getting my girls ready for pre-school — well, the older one anyway — and we were rushing around like madmen. The phone rang and it was my sister in Jersey, telling me with a certain edge in her voice, that we were under attack. It took several minutes of confusion to understand her words — “What?” “I don’t understand . . . ” “Are you SURE?”
My husband, on his way to work, heard news on the radio and turned around. Walking through the door, he asked about my family. I had a cousin who worked in the Twin Towers. Later, we would find out that he got out with minutes to spare and walked home, through debris, to Queens.
My brother, riding his bike to work in Manhattan as he always did, saw one of the planes circling around, saw it fly into the building. Saw one tower fall.
And time stood still. For a day — or three — or weeks, I’m not sure. But for a time, we were all frozen together. Together.
Sixteen years later, it seems like we’re still trying to find our footing — how to be together in a nation this big, this diverse.
Oddly, this weekend, leading up to 9-11, and for the last week, we have been shown through other events, natural disasters, how to come together. When push comes to shove, we are there for each other; we help each other. No questions asked.
So today, in a celebration of all that we are as a nation, I’ll be taking my class of 7th graders to witness a US Naturalization Ceremony at our public library. It’s not being held today to somehow celebrate 9-11, but rather, on this 11th of September, to honor those people who, in spite of our faults and tragedies, have decided to make THIS imperfect place HOME. They will choose US today — the U.S. I find that to be such a beautiful and healing thing.
Today, while we each remember where we were and what we were doing at that exact moment, we must also remember to always strive to be that beacon of light, the place where people from everywhere arrive on our shores and choose to call home. What an incredible thing.