For my parents, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was a pivotal moment in American history. And everyone from their generation remembers exactly where they were when the news of his death was released.
For me and those like me, however, the pivotal moment occurred on September 11, 2001 when terrorists hijacked passenger planes and unleashed hell upon the American people. Nearly 3,000 people died on that fateful day and 14 years later, the memory of what happened is as strong as it ever was.
The morning of September 11, I was working as a manager at a Mexican restaurant. Just before the attacks, I went to the bank to make a deposit and ran a few other errands. When I returned, I noticed a crowd of people standing in the bar and watching the television, their eyes glued to the screen.
My first reaction was typical of my early morning grumpiness, which would normally melt away after several cups of coffee and a handful of cigarettes. “Don’t these assholes know we open at ten?” I asked myself. “I haven’t even wiped the bar down yet.”
Of course, my demeanor changed dramatically once I saw what was unfolding on television. The first plane had hit the Twin Towers and like everyone there, I assumed it was some sort of accident. Then the unthinkable happened: a second plane crashed into the other tower.
That’s when we all knew this was no accident; it was terrorism, plain and simple. And at that moment, we all knew nothing would ever be the same.
More than a decade has passed since that horrible day—and life has pretty much returned to normal—but we should never forget those we lost on September 11. Please take a moment not to reflect on the horror of that day, but to remember those we lost.
I know that I will.