There are a million blog posts, Facebook entries, and Twitter feeds about what people experienced on this day 10 years ago. All of us have our own stories.
I was in Hawaii with my now-ex-husband and his family. We had awoken astonishingly early that morning to the promise of a helicopter ride around the island of Kauai. It was an absolutely beautiful morning for 3:30 a.m., humid after the rainstorm that had come through the day before. I had had my usual breakfast of fresh Hawaiian pineapple and Kona coffee. I was feeling a bit nauseated at the time (from a pregnancy that I wasn't yet aware of).
We arrived at the small airfield only to be turned away by a woman with a look of horror on her face. "A plane has flown into one of the Twin Towers," she said. All air traffic had been grounded.
We returned to the hotel and turned on the TV just in time to watch the second tower fall. My mother-in-law and I were horrified, tearful, and scared to death. We were on an island, hours away from family, and all air traffic had been halted. Phone lines were slow to reach my family. It turns out that a cousin was supposed to be in one of the towers that morning. He, thankfully, had been delayed at home.
My now-ex-husband was evidently untouched by what was happening, and kept telling his mom and me to calm down. I hated him so much at that moment for being so cold. (I really don't have any idea what was happening in his own head.) I took solace in my frequent phone calls to my parents, afraid that it would be a long time before I could see them again. Afraid that I would never get off that island. Afraid that we would be attacked, that my parents' city would be attacked, that life would never be the same.
The screams coming from the television echo still.
We eventually did make it out of Hawaii, accompanied by guards with machine guns and their German Shepherds. Tensions ran high among the throngs of people in the airports, and we were all terrified and silent the entire flight home. Reaching the mainland safely inspired a new outburst of tears from several.
I honor those who fought so hard to rescue people who needed help. I honor those who lost their lives. I honor those who continue to grieve for people they love. I honor those who, every day, strive to make our country a safe place.