My almost 2-year-old son gets scared when airplanes fly overhead. He hears the roar of the engines, looks up to the sky and points saying, “Airplane, Mommy” shortly before he hugs my leg. He did it a few times today on as we were playing on the playground.
On this day, of all days, the day when two planes plunged into the twin towers in New York, a third slammed into the Pentagon and a fourth crashed into a field in Pennsylvania 15 years ago, my son’s innocent little fear made me wonder: How many babies said it to their mommies that day?
Now, 15 years later, what is it like for people who were there that day to hear planes overhead? Fifteen years later do you still flinch? Do you hold your breath hoping that roar just tapers off?
That fear for those who lived it is not an innocent fear. It’s a poison pill planted in the hearts and minds of not just 9/11 survivors, victims, widows and first responders, but in the hearts and minds of millions of Americans. But the terror attacks didn’t just leave us with fear. They unified us with resolve and determination to overcome the hatred that led the terrorists to attack.
Fifteen years later it is not lost on me that I still have the freedom to take my babies to the playground on a Sunday. It is not lost on me that so many lost so much that day. It is something to celebrate that airplanes are back in the sky today. The terrorists did not win.
It’s crazy to think that some high school students are now learning about 9/11 as a historic event, not something that happened during their lifetime. I just hope they all understand and appreciate what happened that day, and for those of us who did see it unfold, even from afar, why it forever changed what it means to be an American to us.
That includes my son. And my daughter. Who will probably always look at an airplane in the sky differently than those who saw the planes hit the twin towers. I hope I do a good enough job as a parent in teaching my kids why they’re lucky they do.