On September 11th, 2001, I was eight years old and sound asleep. I was living in Alaska at the time, meaning I was four hours behind New York, so I didn't know anything had even happened until well after the fact. Most of what I remember about that day is based on what I heard from my parents both at the time and years later, since at eight I had a very basic grasp of what was going on.
At the time, all I knew was that the news was talking non-stop about some explosions. To me, the fireball that kept replaying on the television was fascinating, and I didn't really understand the scope of damage it had caused. I think it was a long time before I was really able to grasp the fact that something like three thousand people died in the attacks.
I know from my parents that they were alerted to the attacks by my grandmother, who called my parents sometime after six in the morning, which if I recall correctly was just after the first plane had hit the South Tower. When my parents answered the phone, my grandmother declared, "We are at war."
Incidentally, I actually remember the United States declaring war on terrorism a lot more clearly than I remember the actual 9/11 attacks. I was at a homeschool study group at the time, and the woman watching us had the television on so she could watch the announcement President Bush was making in the aftermath of the attacks. Again, not something I thoroughly understood the ramifications of at the time, but it's a relatively clear memory regardless.
Over the years, I've seen 9/11 commemorated in many different ways. I've been to war reenactments and seen it honoured with fireworks and a salute to the troops. I've seen special news broadcasts dedicated to the memory of the attacks. I don't really have a personal connection to the attacks the way someone who lost a family member or friend in the attacks would, but my father is retired Air Force. He was deployed to Afghanistan a few years ago as part of the ongoing war on terror. He was relatively safe while there and not gone for a great length of time, but that's still a consequence of the attacks that impacted my family, especially my mother.
It's always hard for me to decide how to adequately honour the memory of an attack I don't remember very clearly and wasn't personally impacted in any major way by. Obviously the attacks changed a great deal in this country, but I was so young that the noticeable change was negligible. One thing I've found to be helpful is music, and there's some great music that commemorates the men and women who lost their lives in the attack, as well as those who were left behind. My personal favourites are Where Were You, specifically the cover by Scotty McCreery, and Let's Roll by DC Talk. It's small, but it helps me remember and pray for those affected, as well as for the future of our country.
Take some time to thank the military members in your life, and to pray for all those remembering great loss on this day. Never Forget.