Fifteen years later, and this day still brings tears to my eyes.
I’ll never forget the terror of that day. I’ll never forget the fear of something beginning, something unknown and awful, and the feeling of being powerless to stop it. I’ll never forget the sound an airplane makes when it explodes as it rams into a building, the hope that a plane wouldn’t be shot down over my house and kill my unborn child before he’d ever had a chance to live in the world, the surreal quality of trying to drive as close to a closed-off city as possible to meet my husband, his foot not yet fully healed from a recent surgery, as he walked ten miles to escape a city under siege. I’ll never forget so many people dead, so many loved ones whose lives were ripped open. I’ll never forget learning that that last plane was headed for the Capitol, where, if it had hit its mark, it would have killed dozens or even hundreds of people I knew. Where, but for the particulars of day and time, it might have killed me.
I’ll never forget what that day did to a city I love.
But I—none of us—can afford to stay in that place of anger and fear. It is appropriate for a while, but then we must move on. We learn. We strengthen. We warn and we build and we say, “No more.” And we say also, “We are not you. We don’t kill because we can, we don’t hate because it’s easier. We will defend ourselves, but we will also continue to live true to our values: love, freedom, kindness. Diversity. Tolerance of others. When we fail—because of course we do sometimes—we will learn from our failure and become better. And so if you try to change us with your hate and your evil acts, you may shed our blood, but you will not change who we are.”
Never forget that day. Never forget what the terrorists tried to do. Never forget that we must never let them achieve their goal.