Everybody Has A Story

If you were to type “september 11” into your nearest Google search bar, in 0.08 seconds you would see the first dozen or so of over three billion results. If you were type in the numbers “9 11,” Google would return an astonishing  5,630,000,000 results. Compare that to some of our other great national tragedies:

  • “World War 2”: About 129,000,000 results
  • “American Civil War”: About 24,000,000 results
  • “Hurricane Katrina”: About 17,300,000 results

Why the disparity? Maybe the difference in numbers is due to the relatively recent occurrence of the terrorist attacks. Maybe since that the events happened in the digital age, people have more to say about it, and more mediums to say them through. Or maybe (probably) it’s due to the fact that 9/11/2001 marked the greatest attack on America…on Americans…in the history of our nation.

Still…it also shows that everybody has a story from that day…or a dozen stories…or more.

Daily memories from ten years ago tend to be a little hazy, but Missy and I clearly remember where we were as the events of September 11, 2001 unfolded. As if freshman year of college isn’t enough of a culture and a life shock, Missy was a freshman at Northern Iowa, while I had begun my “Rat” year at the Virginia Military Institute mere weeks before that fateful day. We had met the previous summer, yet were anything but “official” as we each began college in separate states…in fact, our last conversation had most likely occurred months before high school ended.

With Hannah the night before I left for college; Fall 2001

Freshman Yearbook Photo; Fall 2001

I was on my way to a 9:00AM history class when the north tower was hit; Missy (7:46 AM CDT) was just waking up and getting ready for her day. Reports had just started to come in as roll was taken, but class carried on as normal. My class released early, but by that time both towers had been hit and post was a hive of furious activity. Although I felt that they were in no immediate danger, my first thoughts were to get in touch with the fam back in Maryland.

Social networking sites such as The Facebook (2004) and Twitter (2006) were not yet around (if they were, I’m pretty sure the internet would have broken). Can you believe (due to VMI’s cellphone policy at the time) I had to rely on a pay phone to immediately reach family and friends back home? Yet even after calling to “check in” that morning, the only thing in the world that I needed at that moment was to be with those that I love. Despite being just three hours away, without a car…or any means of travel…it felt as if I was on the dark side of Mars.

Of course, at that point nobody knew the extent of the days events. We both watched in our own respective worlds as the towers fell…as the reports poured in…as our nation grieved. The country…and the world as we knew it…had ended.

Although I feel that we would have started talking again eventually, Missy insists that she called me in the weeks following the attacks fearing that I would be sent to war…to which I calmly explained to her that despite the fact that I went to a “military” college, I was in no immanent danger of being deployed. Heck, I could barely rattle off ten pull-ups, let alone fire a rifle, jump out of a plane, or drive a tank. While her consternation had subsided by the end of our conversation, from that point forward, we remained in almost daily contact throughout the year…which eventually led to a visit from her in May after the year ended, which led to me visiting Iowa in June…which led to…well…you know the rest.

(Pictures of Missy during her freshman year are surprisingly difficult to come by…so here is one from May 2002 soon after we became “official.”)

So as we look back and remember those tragic events of ten years ago, take a minute and listen to somebody’s story.

Your parents.

Your neighbors and coworkers.

Your children.

Everybody has a story…what’s yours?

(I did not take that picture…but it is awesome.  Go here now and give this photographer the credit he deserves.)

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About Tom Hardinge

Loving husband to my wife Missy, loving father to my four daughters Sienna, Rowan, Jovie, and Lola. I'm a chronic over-packer who loves good coffee, good music, running, waffle tee's, fleece pants, and Jesus Christ!

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