Thursday, September 11, 2008

Defining Moments

Defining moments...we all have them. Both as individuals and collectively as a group. Those moments where you remember exactly where you were, what you were doing and who you were with when you 'heard the news'. I was thinking back, over my lifetime, and there are a few events that occurred where I could tell you where I was and what I was doing at the time:

1986 Challenger blows up shortly after take off
I was on my way to Middle School and the DJ on KMEL radio station came on,
in a very somber tone, and announced what had happened. My first class
of the day was English and they rolled in a TV set so we could watch the

1995 OJ Verdict (fyi- I do not consider this anywhere near the significance of
the Challenger Shuttle blowing up, but it's still very memorable)
I was in my Junior year at UCSD and I had Biology class at 10am when they
were scheduled to read the verdict. The professor began class and minutes
into the class, you hear everyone around you whispering and the professor
stops class and asks for someone to announce the verdict...and then I felt
like throwing up.

1996 Princess Diana killed in a car accident
I was working in Disneyland, on Main Street, and I had just gone on break
and went back to the 'Inn Between' Cast Cafe for food and the TVs in the
breakroom were making the news announcement.

These were all major events, although I don't know that I, personally, consider them 'defining moments',they were obviously memorable all the same.

To me, defining moments are moments in time when there's now a sharp distinction between my life before 'it' happened and life after 'it' happened.

It seems that every generation has at least one of these events. My grandparent's generation had the bombing of Pearl Harbor, my parent's generation had the JFK assassination and, unfortunately, we of course have Sept 11th. I think anyone could tell you the when/where/who of that day. For me, being on the West Coast, it was around 5am, our time, that everything started happening, so I was in bed and my radio alarm had gone off and I just remember hearing the DJ say, 'wow, this is a happy day' and then they cut to a statement from President Bush speaking about 'an act of terrorism'. At that point I new something had to be going on, so I got up, went downstairs, turned the TV on and saw the first WTC Bldg with smoke billowing out of the middle of it. I figured a bomb had gone off. I woke my mom up and then I then went upstairs, woke up my sister and turned her tv on and it was during this time that we saw, what we thought was a second explosion, but it turned out to be the second plane hitting the other WTC Bldg. Even when I found out it wasn't bombs, but planes hitting the towers, I took that to mean those small, two seater planes, not passenger planes- that wasn't even a conceivable thought in my mind and it was when I found out that they were passenger planes, that I cried for the first, of many times, over that day. I remember mass confusion as to how many planes there were, where they had hit, etc. And then weeks upon weeks of tv coverage.

Now, when someone reminds me of something in the past, my frame of reference, as to when it happened, is 'did that happen before 9/11 or after 9/11?' And, while I think that it's easy to get sucked into the sadness of it all, I think that we also have to remember the good that we witnessed in the aftermath. While our buildings were falling, heros were rising. People became more selfless than I've ever seen them. People put aside their best interests, some to the sacrifice of their own lives, to save someone most instances, a complete stranger. We saw countless people step up and serve others- not because it was convenient, but because it was the right thing to do. During one of the worst trajedies in our nation's history, we truely saw the very best come out in people and we never felt such a sense of community or felt so much pride in being an American.

Today is a day when we need to pray for those directly impacted and ask God to continue to give them strength, peace, hearts of forgiveness, joy, hope, faith, and comfort. We should never forget that day, but we also shouldn't focus on it. On that day, we saw what we were capable of becoming- selfless, sacrificial, servant-hearted people, and while I know God wept with us on 9/11, I'm also certain that He was smiling down on us as He saw us become the type of people He made us to be.


Sara Warren said...

Great post, Julie. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I was reflecting where I was for all of those same events. The only one I couldn't recall was the Challenger, but one that I remember was where I was when the LA Riots happened. Strange how certain things can be so crystal clear in our memory.