I Will Never Forget

~ Written by Diane Bernhard ~

On that fateful and terrifying day I was in Reno, Nevada, sound asleep. A phone call woke me and I hurried to turn on the TV — just in time to see the South Tower collapse. At first I thought it was some sort of horrible accident, but soon learned — along with millions of horrified people — that deliberate attacks had been successfully carried out the on Twin Towers and the Pentagon and that there had been an attempt (foiled by brave passengers) on the Capital Building of the United States. It was beyond belief — but there it was — proof that enemies had enough hatred, financial resources and followers to plan and carry out such a deed.

I had several relatives and a good friend in and around the Towers that morning. My oldest nephew was next door in a building that collapsed, his wife was in the North Tower on a lower floor. My youngest nephew was across the street in the FBI building and my good friend was at a breakfast meeting in the coffee shop on the ground floor of the complex. It was nearly 48 hours before I could get through to anyone and my joy — mixed with guilt — for their safety has never abated.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but I thought that there would be some people on the western side of the US who would feel removed from these events or feel that NY was somehow responsible for its own attack. I never met one! Everyone I saw, everyone I spoke to was shocked and grieving and angry that Our Country and Our Citizens had been attacked.

A month later, on the return trip — 3,400 miles from Reno to Lake Park — I did not see a single vehicle on the road without a Flag or some sort of mention of the attack and those we lost. I never saw a gas station or rest stop without flags or signs. We all honked when we saw a particularly patriotic display.

I know that I will never forget the worst days in my experience of American history. Nor will I ever forget how we Americans stood together as brothers and sisters — united in our shared grief and anger — and how so many of us acted with courage and fortitude and compassion. These are not things that are easily forgotten.