Death, destruction, devastation. Strong words that evoke powerful emotions of pain and despair. But there are no words to adequately describe how it feels to have your heart ripped out and crushed.
September 11, 2001 was a traumatic day in U.S. history. There is much hullabaloo popping up all over the web, Facebook, twitter and television commenting on this date and the feelings it spawned. It is an event that spurs moments of silence in remembrance and small prayers for peace and comfort of all that it touched. I think everyone in the U.S. old enough to remember that day knows exactly where they were and what they were doing when the Towers were hit and fell.
I had dropped my oldest son off at school (he was in kindergarten) and was driving back home with my younger son and daughter in our white Ford Explorer (a vehicle long gone now) when the news came on the radio. I rushed home to turn on the news and watched on television as the second plane hit a Tower. I was in shock and disbelief – no American thought that kind of Terror could touch us. Families and friends all came together to mourn the loss and tragedy of so many.
Great acts of courage were recorded. Speeches were written. The debris and fallout from the crash of the Twin Towers became more than literal pieces that could be touched – they were emotional wounds that were gouged into the hearts and minds of many. As such, and inspired by pain, songs were written about it as well.
One of those songs, “Where were you when the world stopped turning?” by Alan Jackson became very popular and representative of how many felt at that time. And while I do like the song and I get the sentiment, I think Mr. Jackson got it drastically wrong. Just because you are hit by a sudden and tragic loss of life does not mean the world stops turning. In fact, one of the hardest parts when hit by this kind of tragedy is the glaring reality that the world KEEPS turning. Life keeps going on – you just have to grieve your way through the pain hoping to come out without too many scars on the other side of it. The world doesn’t stop when tragedy strikes – and the detritus from it must be dealt with while the world keeps moving on whether you are ready, or want it to, or not.
I know this from experience. 9/11/01 saddened me for all the people it caused hurt and loss but I knew no one personally in this event. Five months later however, I felt what it was to experience tragic circumstances first hand when my young husband was killed in a car accident. While I was in shock, the sun did indeed continue to rise and set. While I tried to understand and explain to our three little children why Daddy wasn’t ever coming back home again, other people continued on with their lives undaunted. Our world may have ended as we knew it, but the world did not stop turning – it just changed forever.
After 9/11 the U.S. also changed forever. Security became a new topic both serious and comedic (how many laughs have professional comedians gained from talking about the horrors of airport security?) Most of all, New York City changed forever as their famous skyline with the Twin Towers would never again be the same. But the people in that city had to keep rising with the sun and moving forward to the next day. No matter how painful the reality, no matter how much it hurt seeing the large holes in the ground where the towers used to be and harshly reminding them of the holes now in their hearts – the world kept turning.