It’s becoming too easy to forget

Published 10:03 am Thursday, September 13, 2012

I noticed something different this year when it came to this country recognizing Patriot Day, the anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks.

American’s support and feelings about the day have seemingly become silent.

Typically before each anniversary there is an inundation of media; television alone is often littered with documentaries, commentaries and interviews about that day, but this time not so many.

It was the same here in the newsroom of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. The usual coverage requests we typically see this time of year from different civic groups and organizations were nowhere to be found.

Each year after September 11th I have made it a point to reflect and say a prayer on the tragedies that took place in New York City, Washington D.C. and Shanksville, Pa.

I feel the need to remind myself how much this country lost in one day, and how it very well could happen in a blink of an eye again.

Each generation has its moment where it realizes life as we want it to be is not always promised, and for mine September 11th was it.

As a native New Yorker I especially feel the need to remember.

I remember September 11, 2001 very clearly. My mom woke me that morning telling me there had been a terrorist attack in New York City. She had been informed by a relative on the phone. Like millions of other people, I went to the television.

There had been a terrorist attack already in New York in 1993 and I assumed that’s what I was going to see…but didn’t.

Instead I saw the attacks involved planes and it wasn’t just in New York, but in Washington and reports of other possible hijacked planes were beginning to come in.

I went to the kitchen where my mom was washing dishes. I remember telling her, “It’s bad.”

I felt—numb. For one of the first times in my life I was honestly felt vulnerable and scared of what was going to happen next.

That giant’s shadow I had hidden underneath was gone. Everything I had known was being threatened. Things weren’t so innocent anymore.

After pulling ourselves away from the television, my mom and I sat on our deck looking at the sky. It was an ideal late summer day in New York State; it was getting cooler and whitest clouds I had ever seen contrasted against a bright, blue sky.

There seemed to be nothing wrong in the world. The breeze was swaying the apple tree branches, heavy with maturing fruit. My eight month old cousin, whom my mom was babysitting, was still in midst of his morning nap, breathing deeply into his white baby blanket, his red curls clinging to his sweaty forehead.

As we sat there my mom and I said nothing—sadness, anger and fear had left us without words.

It was hard to sleep that evening. Everything I had seen on the television that day kept rolling through my mind. I slept with the light on that night.

But it’s been 11 years, but for me it feels like yesterday; does it for you?

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: or call (252) 332-7209.