Can you remember what you did on the night of September 10, 2001?

I can’t…

I mean, if I really think back to the night before, I may be able to guess where I was—probably the gym—but other than that, I can’t recall a single detail about what I did that night.

But I can remember every detail about the morning of September 11th without even really trying.

Isn’t it funny how our brain works?

In 2001, I was chasing my dream of becoming a professional wrestler. I had already been trained and working the local circuit for a few years, but that was my focus.

Thanks to my training schedule, I couldn’t hold a “real” job – so I was working part-time at an aftercare program for a local school. My days there didn’t start till 1, so when I woke up that morning, I did what I always did when I had hours to kill…

I turned on the TV.

I was cooking breakfast when the first news report came on…

The anchors came on and said there had been an accident at the World Trade Center. A plane had hit one of the towers.

From Accident To Horrific Attack

Of course, because nobody knew what was going, everybody was speculating wildly…

Was this pilot error? Or was this a suicide by a deranged pilot?

Had somebody in the control tower really screwed up? Was it caused by mechanical failure?

Nobody knew…

For the first few minutes, no one even mentioned terrorism as a motive.

But about 20 minutes into the emergency broadcast, they first mentioned the word “terrorist”…and we realized that we were under attack.

It was surreal…

Live footage from the ground showed the billowing smoke rising and engulfing the top of the building. As the anchors analyzed the footage and talked through the possibilities, the unthinkable happened before our very eyes.

The second plane hit.

It was then that we knew this wasn’t an accident…

This was an attack.

I couldn’t turn away from the TV. I forgot about the eggs I was scrambling, and I forgot about the bread in the toaster. Frozen in front of the TV, I found myself praying for everyone on the plane and in the buildings.

When the next report came that the Pentagon had also been hit, that’s when the fear set in.

How many of these attacks were happening?

Were there still more hijacked planes in the air somewhere?

Then, as the cameras rolled, the South Tower fell.

If I close my eyes, I can still feel the knot that was in my stomach when I watched the footage…

“All those people…” was the only thought going through my mind.

And then, the news reports of United Airlines flight 93 crashed in the countryside of Pennsylvania. Reporters stated that the passengers of the plane had risen up against their hijackers. Knowing what would happen if they did nothing, they picked up whatever weapons they could and fought their way into the cockpit.

A few minutes after that…

The North Tower collapsed.

Unified In Our Grief

Fear…

That’s what I remember feeling most strongly. It gripped my heart like a vise.

Though the news reports had told us the government has shut down US airspace, I was still fearful that somewhere else was going to be attacked.

The rest of the day is a blur…

But if there was one thing I knew for sure, it was the fact that America would be changed forever by the events of that day.

We’d change how we viewed our enemies…

We’d change how we viewed our allies…

And we’d never be able to live safely again.

However…

Just as memorable as the tragedy that happened that day is the way that our country came together afterward.

In all my life, I was never more proud of my country and the people in it than I was the days, weeks, and months after 9/11.

We were united…

For the first time in YEARS, we were ONE country. And while we are a long way off from where we were then, the fact remains that we CAN come together. It is possible.

We don’t need a tragedy to bring us together…

Just a simple love and reverence for what our country represents.

We CAN do this…

And today, the 18th anniversary of one of the most tragic events in American history, is the perfect time to try.