Ten years and two days ago I was 37 weeks pregnant with my first child. My mother flew half way across the United States to spend a week with my husband and I. I remember picking her up at the gate. It was the last time I ever picked anyone up at the airport from their gate.
My mom rejoiced in my huge belly and I felt excited and proud to show off my giant gestating bump. She had come out to help me get everything ready for the baby and to enjoy a small break from everyday life and work. We made fun and frivolous plans.
The morning of September 11, 2001, I was up early (hugely pregnant women don’t get lots of sleep) and getting ready for a doctor’s appointment. The news was on and we heard that a plane had hit the Twin Towers in New York City.
I was convinced it was some sort of tragic accident. Even when the second plane crashed and the Pentagon was hit. Surely this couldn’t be a deliberate act? It had to be a horrible, horrible mistake.
It was, of course, no mistake. And I witnessed evil, for the first time, on a grand scale.
We watched the news all day and that night. Airports were closed down, t.v. programming was cancelled, everything changed. I remember thinking that I couldn’t possibly bring a child into a world so full of misery and so full of hatred. Hatred towards me and my way of life from people who didn’t even know who I was.
It took me a while to see the other side of the tragedy. The side that filled me with hope for the tiny baby I was carrying.
In the following days and weeks and months I realized, that while we had been attacked with a ferocity and hatred I never thought could have existed, there were heroes everywhere. There were hundreds of people (professional and civilian) who rushed into those burning buildings to rescue the hurt and wounded. There were fleeing victims who stopped to help others escape. There were neighbors and friends who took care of the families left behind. Fundraisers and bake sales were held to offer monetary support to the people affected by these terrible crimes. Absolute strangers, moved to do something, donated blood, just to help.
Thousands of people died ten years ago, by the hands of a few dozen mad men filled with hatred and evil.
But, hundreds of thousands of people became heroes in small and large ways in the horrific aftermath.
That is the world in which I raise my three children. A world that has more heroes than villains, more love than hate, more help than hurt.
And everyday it challenges me to be a better mother, wife, friend, and citizen.