"Where were you?"
For our parents, it was Kennedy. Before them it was Pearl Harbor.
Our generation has the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.
I remember exactly where I was that day, what I was doing, how I felt. After that, I remember what happened that week better than I did on the actual day.
I was going to plan my birthday that day. I'd worked every day that week, except for the 11th, and I was looking forward to a day of sleeping in followed by getting FIF tickets from King's Dominion. Shawn and I were going to go see the show and spend the day at King's Dominion.
I woke up a lot earlier than I'd wanted, which was odd considering that I could've slept in much later had I wished it since I wasn't working that day. I stayed in bed as long as possible, not wanting to leave the warmth of my mother's quilt and the feeling of being wrapped up in blankets, feeling like a preborn child.
I got up and put on my fuzzy bathrobe and furry hot pink slippers, and walked out of my room to go take a shower. I shuffled into the bathroom, took a shower, cleaned my teeth, and put my flannel PJs on and was going to go into the living room to grab my blanket, when my mom stopped me in the hall.
She told me, "Sharyn, I know this is going to sound like a movie, but the World Trade Centre was just hit by an airplane. They don't know who did it, or why."
We walked into the living room together, just in time to stare in horror as the Pentagon was struck.
Word of a plane crash in Pennsylvania came shortly thereafter.
I stood in my living room, in my flannel pyjamas with the little Scottie dogs, my furry pink slippers, my kitty blanket wrapped around me, next to my mother, feeling so cold, so alone, so helpless. I thought I could feel all the blood in my body seep through the floor. I thought of everyone I knew who was in New York that day. I thought of my boss driving in to DC. I thought of my friends in DC and whether they were safe. Phones were dead while I watched absolute terror on the face of the American people. I watched with pride as our President addressed the Nation. We were scared, but we were strong. We knew we were Americans and we could get through this.
Now we have a new "Where were you?" This morning a cruel and evil dictator was captured by American soldiers, just "doing their job." Where was I?
Again I woke up a lot earlier than I'd intended. I looked over through bleary, half-open eyes, and saw my cell phone ringing. I noticed that the ring tone meant John was calling me.
I picked it up, rolled over, and said, "Hello?", wanting nothing more than to say "Yes, dear. Okay. I love you. I'm going back to sleep now."
All he had to do to change that was say, "Hi, dear. They caught Saddam Hussein."
I sat straight up in my bed, not quite knowing how to deal with that, but believing that he wouldn't lie to me about something like this. I think my exact words were, "What?!"
He told me again that they caught him, and that, once again, like on September 11th, President Bush would address the Nation. The first time I watched him after an American turning point, I was terrified. Now there's nothing but a sense of pride. I entrusted Bush with my life, and my brothers' lives. And he did what he said he'd do. It doesn't get sweeter than that.
I looked out the window, and for the first time that day noticed that there was snow on the ground. It was as though the world knew that something wonderful had happend that day and wanted to blanket herself in something beautiful.
I don't know what else I'll remember about this day years from now. I don't know how many times the story will change when I tell my children about what happened to their mommy when she was 15, 18 years old. But I do know what the moral of the story will always be: Be proud of your country. Be proud of your military. Be proud to be an American. We've come this far together, and nothin's gonna change that. Ever.
I only hope that their "Where were you?" is a happy one.