I was riding my bike today, after the sun finally came out, and my mind started to wonder as it does when I'm riding. I remember September 11, 2001. My daughter was safely delivered to her high school and I was on my way home from driving my sons to their school. As was my habit back then, I waved to a neighborhood walker. I saw her nearly every morning when she walked and I returned from this daily ritual. But this time, she didn't wave. She was on her cell phone with a look on her face that was hard for me to classify. It bothered me. How could she be so preoccupied with a phone call that could cause that look of horror.
I walked into the house and, as usual, fired up my computer to work at my graphic design business. I used to pride myself that I never watched television while working at home. For some reason that day, I turned on the television and never left my seat for the rest of the day. I arrived home just in time to watch the first tower collapse. And soon after, the second. It was clear to me why my walking friend was deep into that phone conversation -- it was about what had just happened in New York City, NY USA.
At that time, we lived in a house that was in the flight pattern of planes that flew over Lake Michigan as they approached the airport. The periodic sound of airplanes was hypnotic and always present. At night, I could see their lights from my office window as they flew over the house and what seemed like my desk. It was soon after the second tower collapsed that I went outside and stood on the back stoop. I remember the weather that day. It was perfect. The sky was crystal clear. There was an unusual silence because there wasn't a single plane passing overhead on their way to landing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I remember the strange feeling I had when I realized that there was no history of this sort of thing here in this country. How was I supposed to feel? We don't have people attack us here. I remember thinking that maybe there could be more devastation ahead. How do people feel when they have had the luxury of feeling safe for their entire life?
After that day, I realized that there is a price for feeling safe. It's a price that other people have paid and continue to pay. It should never be forgotten.
For that split second when I stood at my back door, I felt what so many people feel every single day of their lives when they live in fear for their safety and their freedom.