I’m one of those people. You know, I never have really talked about 9/11 in terms of how it impacted me. I mean a few people know, but you know?
I remember it quite vividly actually, I had the experience of being a participant in the Georgia Youth Summit held at Rock Eagle, in beautiful Eatonton, Georgia. I had been to Rock Eagle many times throughout my tenure as a 4-Her, in fact I think that was about the 20th or so time I had been there. It was my home away from home in many ways.
But things changed that day. I remember we were supposed to be treated to a speech by then Lt. Governor Mark Taylor – that got cancelled. Director of Georgia 4-H Bo Ryles simply told us that the rest of the events had to be cancelled, that something tragic had happened, and that we were to go home and be safe. Just prior to this, all of the adults had been spreading around – I heard whispers of what was happening. I remember my County Agent’s words very well, “There are planes hitting buildings everywhere.”
It was at this moment that my heart sank all the way to the floor. I remember the nervous and nauseating feeling I had. I knew right then and there what had happened. I had been studying terrorism for one and a half years as a part of High School Policy Debate; I also realized that things would never be the same.
As we departed, we struggled to find out more information. Only one of us had a cellphone; and the radio in the Dodge County van was non-existent. The lack of information had me unnerved. The little bits we got were not very reassuring, all the planes have been grounded, hospital may be being evacuated, possible bomb threats in Warner Robins – everything was sketchy. We stopped at Zaxby’s, I had never eaten there before and I can not remember what I ate.
We got home after the multi-hour journey. I was concerned because we were so close to a major air force base. I remember getting home, turning on CNN and immediately calling my Papa and Granny. They were alright. I remember being worried they wouldn’t be. How silly is that? Milan, Georgia was about as far away from the action as you could get I suppose. They assured me everything would be ok. I didn’t believe them. I called my Grandmother, who was sitting with a woman at a nursing home. She hated for me to call at work. She told me to be calm till she got home. My grandfather wasn’t there. I broke down and cried. To me this was the worst thing that could happen. I had been studying scenarios the past week as to what would happen if such a thing had happened. Many of those led to nuclear war. To say I was frightened would be an understatement.
It was hard for me to fathom, how all of this could happen – why did it happen. I was confused. My fear soon subsided. The next day the anger began to build. I was furious. I remember going back to school the next day, everyone was shell shocked. I remember friends such as Matt Oxley being just as concerned as I was, he was my debate partner at the time and we both wondered how we could ever run the terrorism disadvantage ever again.Over the next few weeks there were prayers and vigils and memorials. Then time began to pass, I became numb. Every year there was some event, but again I was numb. The compassion and anger that inhabited my body in some odd dualistic battle for control had left. Time passed. I tried not to think about 9/11. I’d rather people not talk about it. Whenever it came down to policy debates I steered the debate away from that issue. It wasn’t something I cared to hear about.
Seven long years later. I visited New York in March, and besides all the Ghostbusters buildings I wanted to see Ground Zero. Emily didn’t really want to go, but I did. While she took pictures, I felt all those emotions rise back up – and I cried silently while no one noticed. I don’t know what I expected to happen, but that’s what did. Now my old debate partner is a 9/11 Truther, I try not to judge him nor anyone else for that decision. People can believe what they want.
Today Georgia Southwestern State University had organized a fundraiser for their new Golf Course named for the honorable Judge & Former Attorney General Griffin Bell. On the slate of events was no sort of remembrance for 9/11. When we first discovered this in our weekly Student Government Meeting, I became concerned. Could we have truly forgotten so quickly what happened a mere seven years ago?
It hasn’t been that long, this isn’t something anyone should forget about. With the blessing of my Advisors and my colleagues, I set out to organize a memorial event. We had good turnout, hopefully it becomes an annual event.While the turnout was better than I had expected, it still disheartens me that the masses no longer descend upon events like this. I hear stories of how events around the country only have a handful of people show up. One of my Professor’s, whom I respect very much, consoled my disappointment – he told me that he had some students who didn’t fully know about 9/11.
The words from Dr. Cooper’s mouth hit me like a sack of bricks. I thought it to be inconceivable, but I know he wouldn’t falsify such a thing. How is that possible, that the only major event in the history of this nation to occur in these people’s lifetimes goes unnoticed? Earlier this morning I had committed myself, and asked about a hundred others to reaffirm the statement we all made seven years ago – “never forget”, then it seemed like a simple reminder for our own lives. Now I have a new appreciation for what I did, if people are not aware of such a major event – then I must resolve myself to ensure that at least I never forget.
Thousand of people have died, so that we may have liberty and freedom. I may be one person, but I promise I will never forget that sacrifice.