7 years ago today we experienced the biggest national tragedy of my life. I’m not sure how you remember that day, but I will tell you how I do…

I was an unemployed 21 year old living at home. Of course, sleeping when it happened. I woke up to my mom shaking me awake, telling me over and over we had been attacked by terrorists. My parents, being pranksters, were an unreliable source. I told her that I thought her joke was not funny and rolled over to go back to sleep. I could hear her just standing beside my bed and could feel her staring at me. When I rolled back over to tell her to get out she had the most serious look on her face I have ever seen. I got up immediately and went to the TV just in time to see the breaking news about the plane that went down in Pennsylvania.

I spent that day in total shock, glued to the television. Watching every moment, waiting for what was next. I wasn’t sure if that was it, I thought there might be more to come. I began thinking about what monuments were close to my location and what might be hit first on the West Coast. I remember the roar of the fighter jets for weeks to come, the terror alert rising and falling. First I was horrified, but as the fear subsided, outrage ensued.

Another thing happened that absolutely amazed me though. It seemed like the people in my neighborhood, town and I’m sure everywhere else, kind of united in a way. People were nicer to each other for a long time, saying hello on the streets and helping each other. There was one family in particular that lived in my small town that was Muslim. Being a small town, everyone new him and his family as they owned a local gas station (1 of 3 in town). I felt myself becoming very protective of him and his family as they had always gone above and beyond for ours. Then eventually that went away and people went back to the same old behavior. Mostly at odds with each other over politics or religion or whatever suits their needs at the time. I am still very sad about what happened that day in New York and Pennsylvania, but I have to say I do miss the feeling of oneness and camaraderie that came in the days to follow. I wish that Americans would always treat each other the way they did during that time period. Maybe I am unrealistic and maybe I have a different memory of the events than you do, but please remember your fallen brothers and sisters today. This is a sad day, but also an opportunity to remember how Americans united as a country and as a family.


  1. Shawna you made me cry… You are so right, it’s sad that we realize whats important to us at the time of loss or sorrow and then we go back to the old us. Oh well what can you say, we’re human.

  2. Very well said, Shawna.

  3. I clearly remember that day as well. It was my final day off before starting at GiftTree. I also awoke to the news and spent the day glued to my TV. I was in disbelief and overwhelmed with sadness. But the country did become united for a time after that, you could feel it. I remember all the Support Our Troops bumper stickers, and all the businesses I drove by that had reader boards had some type of “We will miss you” or “In memory of” sentiment posted. I started at GiftTree on 9/12/2001 and remember being sent home early every day for a while because the tragedy on 9/11 had affected our business, just like so many others. To the troops and their families, be safe and thank you.

  4. Well said and well written. Most people don’t really know what this event has cost countless others.

  5. This touches the soul. A tragic event that we will always remember brought us together.

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