8:46 AM, September 11, 2001…
The world revolves 25,000 miles in 24 hours. That is almost 1100 miles an hour that the world is moving. Sun rises, sun sets. Moon rises, moon sets. Tides go in and out, in and out. Clocks go tick-tock, tick-tock. Nothing can stop that, bar the apocalypse.
However, at 8:46 AM, September 11, 2001, that rule was broken; time froze. I didn’t know it at that time, but that day would change my life forever. It was the day/moment that time stood still.
I was a freshman at John S. Burke Catholic High School, just 40 miles from NYC. I had just switched from homeroom to 1st period band class, when the student counselor came running into each class, very discombobulated, and whispered to the teacher. Class was paused, and a short period later we were ushered to the gym.
One by one, I watched students get pulled out of class, only to see them sobbing later. I would later find out that those students were the ones who’s parents were WTC employees, NYPD, and FDNY. Most of those parents did not come back home.
I was young, and naive. I didn’t understand the gravity of the situation at the time. We were ushered home, and I couldn’t stop panicking because I knew my mom worked as a nurse in a hospital that was “between me and NYC”, but didn’t realized the distance at the time. I also later found out why fighter jets were flying over our towns, as we are 12 miles from a very large nuclear energy facility and AA Flight 11 and made a turn towards it, prior to turning back south towards NYC.
I got home, and ran to the TV, where family was gathered. I’ll never forget, as long as I’m alive, the live footage of the towers collapsing, the people covered in dust and ash and blood while they stumbled with a blank look, and the people tumbling from the towers as they jumped. It made me sick. Sitting here typing this, I feel nauseous. My hands still shake, and I get choked up. I didn’t know what to do, but all I wanted to do was to have my mom home. I distinctly remember crying until she made it home…much much much later.
Fast forward 13 years. I’m sitting at my desk, a US Army Military Police Officer; an occupation directly driven by the incidents that occurred over a decade prior. From October of 2001, I knew I wanted to be in the military. I didn’t fully know why, but I had a burning desire to be able to make a difference. I work regularly with Soldiers who went from a peacetime army on September 10th, to a wartime army on September 11th. I’ve seen how their lives, and their families lives have been affected by multiple combat deployments, where they were willing to give the ultimate sacrifice to deliver the slightest ounce of justice to those who swore to destroy America. I’ve been a volunteer firefighter, with one of our former members volunteering to go to Ground Zero on his day off, never to return home. And I’ve been to ground zero myself…and watched family members cry and sob at the memorial dedicated to never letting the world forget the moment that time stood still.
I was indirectly affected on that day, in ways I never thought imaginable. I have no idea how to talk to my daughter about that day, when she comes home with her history book that talks about it. I have no idea what to say when she asks me, “Why did people do that?” The only thing I know is that I pray she never has to experience such a senseless act of violence during her lifetime.
So today, September 11, 2014, I ask that you take a moment of silence to remember the 2,977 innocent victims killed at the World Trade Center, Shanksville, PA, and the Pentagon. I also ask that you remember the 6,834 service-members who have paid the ultimate sacrifice during the War on Terror. Lastly, I pray that our generation, and generations to come will NEVER FORGET 8:46 AM, September 11, 2001…The Moment Time Stood Still.
God Bless America!