There have been many defining moments in our nation's history, times so potently charged with emotion that they sear themselves into our memories. We forever remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when the events occurred. The attacks of 9/11 are one of them.
I was driving in a car on the way to school (I went back to college later in life) when the first reports came in. A small plan had hit the Trade Center, they said. By the time I drove the half hour to school it was clear it was a much larger plane.
We jimmy-rigged a television in the library and watched in horror as the second plane hit, and then as the towers - incredibly, unbelievably - fell. I remember thinking the footage looked like a scene from a horror movie. The sight of the towers slowly collapsing in on themselves, billowing smoke and debris, people screaming and running...they're branded in my memory even now, eleven years later.
From the ashes came stories of heroism, of police, firefighters, and everyday people risking - and in many cases, losing - their lives in an effort to save others. Their actions gave me hope for our country.
In the days that followed, I remember the sense of community that stretched from the Atlantic to the Pacific. We came together as a country then, flags waving, solidarity evident in everything from our clothing to our music.
Incredibly, I discovered that we, as a country, do have a soul, even if its usually deeply buried under corporate greed and political dissension.