When I got up that morning the boys had already turned on the TV. They were on this funny kick of watching the Spanish station, so as I came into the room, I wasn't quite sure exatly what I was seeing. A wall of smoke swallowed people who were running, and buildings disappeared into it. An excited voice chattered away, and though I am fluent in Spanish, I could only make out a few words; explosion, fire, smoke, planes...
I called Melissa and asked what on earth was happening.
"Oh, my gosh, you don't know? They flew planes into the World Trade Center."
I sat on the floor in front of our 13 inch TV and watched in horror as what she told me began to make the images more terrible than what they had already been.
I just sat there and wept.
I didn't know what to do. I called my mother.
I asked him, Did he know? Had he heard?
"Cut the tears," he said, "it's not happening to you."
That's just Dad's way of detaching from it all.
And he was wrong, because it was happening to us, all of us.
Of course, not like it was for them. But still...
I wanted my little boys, just 4 and 2 years old, to remember that day somehow.
We sat and made little red, white blue lapel pins out of ribbon and we
filled a basket with them, then walked around handing them to strangers.
Some people refused to take them, not really understanding what we were doing and why. Most met our gazes, smiled and thanked us, and somehow we felt each other's hurt and soothed each other a little bit. One man offered us money for the pins. I told him that we didn't want money, we just wanted to connect with people in our community that were feeling as shaken and confused as we were. I told him I needed my boys to know what a blessing it is to live in this country. He thanked me, and then shook they boy's hands, and accepted a lapel pin from one of them.
They were too little to be told about all of the horror. I only told them that bad people had hurt some Americans, and that we should pray for them, and we did, that night and every night for months.
I still weep when I think about that day, those people who lost everything, and the way our country has been changed because of it. But I am proud of the way it unified us as a nation, and made us stand up for our flag and our freedom like we hadn't done in a long time.
"Love your country. Your country is the land where your parents sleep, where is spoken that language in which the chosen of your heart, blushing, whispered the first word of love; it is the home that God has given you that by striving to perfect yourselves therein you may prepare to ascend to him." ~Giuseppe Mazzini