What Does September 11th Mean to You?

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As we pause today to remember this horrific anniversary that forever changed our country, I ask what does this day mean to you?

To me, it means remembering that my second child was due to be delivered in just a few weeks.  It means that I was fearful for my then toddler son’s future.  It meant that even though I didn’t know any of the victims, I had friends who lost very good friends and family that day…and that broke my heart, then and now.

It was a day that I stood at my son’s preschool staring at the quiet skies thinking what an eerie silence that was to behold because not one single airplane was flying in the sky.

I also remember thinking of my good friends at KTVK, who were working around the clock reporting a story that our country had never imagined seeing on the news and in our cities.  I had just left my full-time job at the KTVK morning show a week earlier, so I could tell by my colleagues’ faces, even before they reported the full events, that something terrible was happening.  They were completely professional, but I just knew, because I knew all of them.

I also thought of my comrades at Southwest Airlines, where I had been a marketing manager before I left to join a busy newsroom.  How would their world change?

It struck me that my two former career fields….the airlines and the news media….were being forever changed on that day on.

I also remember processing the stages of this infamous day in history.  First the shock, then the fear of what was coming next as the day unfolded followed by tears and complete sadness.  Then a few days later, a sense of American pride as I watched how our country came together to grieve and heal as one.  Then anger that this could happen at all…and that it did happen.

And just as I was processing all of that, I became a new mother for the second time and it was time for me to get back to work performing the trickiest job in the world….parenting!  I didn’t have to discuss the events of 9/11 with my kids until several years later, when they were older and came home asking me about it, because it is covered in their history books.

How do I explain such a tragedy?  I didn’t want to shatter what seemed to them to be a bullet-proof world that had been filled with fairy tales, the tooth fairy and Santa Claus.  Again, the tricky job of parenting was in full swing, so I went with my gut and told them everything that I know.  Kids, when old enough, want it told to them, straight.

And now they know why we have to remove our shoes when we go through the airport security line and they know that bad and evil do exist.

But they know that the good and the honorable trump evil….then and now.  Most importantly, they know to be the best that they can be, to be alert of their surroundings and to remember the ones lost, the ones who have fought for us and the first responders who are the heroes who gave a dark day 11 years ago a little sunlight.

And I also can’t forget that another mother in Tucson delivered a daughter that day, little Christina Green, who we tragically lost in the Tucson shooting.  She was…and remains…a symbol of hope and I honor her today, too.

So this is what September 11th means to me.  That I was reminded of what really matters in life…our family, our friends and our honor to be the best that we can be, to be kind to each other and to live our lives to the fullest in honor of those who were lost to us on that sad sad day.

What does this day mean to you?

And one other thing….this day happens to be the birthday of one of my dearest friends and I won’t forget that, either….so Happy Birthday to my beautiful friend, Julie!  Because September 11th birthdays should still be celebrated with the same joy as before that tragic day.