It's amazing how much can change in thirteen years. When the attacks happened in 2001, I was a high school teacher at an alternative campus in Angleton. I was finishing up my Master's in Education, and I was living in a pretty nice apartment in Lake Jackson. I honestly thought I had found my career path, that I was maybe a date away from finding the woman I'd spend my life with, and that I knew good and well what my future would be.
The morning those planes hit, I was ushering kids into class, telling people to take their seats. I had no idea what was happening in New York. One of my fellow teachers mentioned something about an airplane hitting a building, but at the time we thought it was a small aircraft, maybe a Cessna. I went into my classroom and started doing the same thing I did every day.
Later, when the news become so overpowering it couldn't be ignored, the routine of the day was completely shattered. There was no going back. We would talk about nothing else for the next three or four days.
In a way, we've been talking about that day ever since.
Out of that day, though, we have to remember that there came so much more than tragedy. There was hope, too. There were those who died on Flight 93, bringing the plane down before it could reach its target.
"Let's roll." That's what Todd Beamer said as he hung up with his wife, and joined the passengers in the very first battle against the terrorist who attacked us that day.
That's the 9/11 I want to remember. The firemen and police officers and medical personnel and civilian volunteers coming from all over the country to help save lives among the rubble of the World Trade Center towers. The families who knit together with other families, complete strangers, to provide comfort and community. The souls who were inspired by the events of that day, and decided to take action, to do something that would make those events meaningful beyond the tragedy.
That's 9/11. That's what I will remember. That's what history should remember.