I remember the smoke and the screams and the people jumping from God knows how high.
I remember when the plane went down in Pennsylvania and the one that hit the Pentagon.
I remember the sense of horror when we realized that the first plane was not, in fact, a freak accident.
I remember watching the news for days and days, holding my newborn baby, tears streaming down my face.
What I remember most those next few weeks after September 11th, though?
I remember it being the first time that I felt like an American.
I had always been an American, obviously.
It was the first time, I suppose, I felt a sense of pride in being American.
I cried for the innocents, for the first responders, for the families that would never get to bury their loved ones. I listened in awe to the calls that were made from the plane before it went down in Pennsylvania.
I remember thinking, if I didn't have this newborn baby, I'd have gone right down to the recruiter's office.
I wanted to go and dig through the rubble.
I wanted to give blood.
I wanted to DO something, change something.
I wanted to help clean up the mess and show those people that we were wounded, but not broken.
I was nice to strangers.
I was nice to everyone, which is weird.
I remember thinking, quite suddenly that all of the bullshit I had been worried about didn't even matter in the grand scheme of things.
I bought a flag.
I bought a flag magnet and a ribbon thing for the car.
I had never given any thought to being an American before.
I didn't just want to be a better American.
All of a sudden, I wanted to be a better PERSON.
That day, September 11th, 2001, changed me fundamentally.
And I suspect, changed more than a few of our generation.
For all the pain and fear and and uncertainty of those first few months,
I think it made us all better people.
Self centered and irresponsible.
We had such a small, small view of the world around us.
We saw our whole country and so much of the world unite in the days and weeks that followed September 11th.
As the towers fell and people stood across the world and said, "Today, we are all Americans".
I realized how big the world is, and also how very small it is.
The world may have stopped turning that day in September, 2001.
But when it started turning again, it mattered to me in a way it never had before.