Do you remember where you were on Sept. 11, 2001?
It’s a date that has remained etched in many lives across our nation. It’s an image that won’t leave our memories. It’s a feeling that still sparks emotion and tears. And even for those of us who didn’t have a direct tie to the tragedy, our lives remain forever changed.
I spent Sept. 11, 2001 inside a local newsroom. As a publications editor at the time, news spread quickly around the newsroom of the events unfolding in New York. We became glued to the televisions watching in disbelief as the tragedy unfolded.
Wonder. Fear. Tears. Overwhelming emotion.
For me, those emotions continued for days and months after the attacks. And there isn’t an anniversary that goes by that makes me reflect on what the day holds in all of our hearts.
It wasn’t until this past March that those strong emotions and vivid images came flooding back to me as I visited the Flight 93 National Memorial in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. With my brother a resident of Pittsburgh, his home lies only about one-a-half hours from the crash site of a plane that was believed to be headed for the U.S. Capitol. But because of the actions of the 40 passengers and crew aboard, the plane instead went down in what was once just a field in rural Pennsylvania. Now it is home to a memorial that forever remembers those brave souls.
Entering the national memorial park automatically cast a sense of sadness over me. It wasn’t just looking at the photos and reading the first-hand accounts that did this, but more the feeling of knowing I was in a spot where one act changed history forever. It changed my life forever.
Visitors before me who walked the Memorial Plaza wall and walkway had left tributes in small niches in the wall. Flowers. Trinkets. American Flags.
Running my fingers down the marble panels of the Wall of Names were 40 people I never knew personally. A wall that marks the flight path to the impact site seen beyond the wooden Ceremonial Gate. The impact site is now marked by a larger boulder that is visited only by family of those who lost their lives in that spot.
It’s an incredible memorial. One of many from that day that pays tribute to the brave souls we lost.