Who doesn't love New York City? I certainly do.
When I was little my family moved a lot. It was part of my dad's job. At one point we were living in Connecticut. Being that close to the city meant that whenever friends or family were in town for a visit we would go into New York for the day and show them around. Now, I was very little but I have vivid memories of those trips. The one that jumps out the most is being at the top of the Statue of Liberty with our family friend, Kathy. It was so windy. Like, crazy windy. I remember trying to run into the wind and not going anywhere. It was the best game ever. I did it over and over, letting the wind push me back to the railing every time. I remember Kathy finally having to grab my hand and pull me back inside because I simply wasn't strong enough to make it through the wind myself.
I also remember driving through New York on the George Washington Bridge one sunny day on my way to Maine for the summer. It was June 2006 and I was traveling alone from Atlanta in my full-size Ford Bronco. It was hot and the traffic was a complete nightmare. I sat on that bridge for hours with the windows open and no air conditioning, sweating my butt off. I remember being in awe of the rows upon rows of apartments. And the people hanging out the windows yelling down to the streets. It was just like a movie.
A few years ago my mother decided to abandon our normal Christmas traditions and take our family to New York for Christmas in the city. We had an amazing time. We saw the Rockettes, ate at Tavern on the Green, saw Wicked on Broadway, walked Central Park, rode the Subway, went to the Rainbow Room, browsed Tiffany's, ate breakfast at random delis, wandered Grant Park and ventured down to Times Square at night. We were the perfect tourists.
But even with so many great memories I find myself falling back to the one memory I think of when I hear the words New York. I wasn't even in New York at the time. I was in Tennessee, at college. I had two hour microbiology lab that morning at 8am in a windowless building way down on the far side of campus behind the stadium. There was a parking lot adjacent to our lab so when we left class everyone headed to their car. I decided to head to the UC (our campus center) and grab a cup of coffee. It was a couple block walk and I quickly noticed that campus was a ghost town. It was 10am and I was the only one on the sidewalks. It was silent.
The entrance I went into at the UC consisted of three sets of double doors. I went to open the center set of doors but when I pushed on the door it would only open half way. I poked my head in and realized that blocking the way were hundreds of students and their backpacks sitting on the floor, silently staring up at the TV's watching the news. I looked up at the nearest TV and couldn't understand what I was seeing. What city was this? What was happening? It started to all register as I sat down, blocking the door completely. We all just sat there. In shock. Some people were crying softly. But mostly, people were just staring.
It was awful. It was unbelievable.
That was 10 years ago and I'm sure every one of you has a similar story and knows exactly where you were or what you were doing when you realized the United States had been attacked. And you'll probably never forget it either.
So, regardless of whether you're American, Canadian, Irish, or Australian, let's give thanks to the brave men and women that fight for our safety everyday.
Let's remember how proud we are of our nationality.
Let's pray for those that fought bravely that day.
And let's remember where we came from.
We will never forget that day and we are stronger now because of it.
Seriously, I'll wait in the security line at the airport all damn day if that's what it takes to keep an attack from happening again.
Can I get an Amen?!