Like most, I can vividly remember where I was ten years ago when I heard the news that the United States was under attack. I had just started my last semester at BYU and was working mornings answering phones at a local law firm. That morning, like any morning, I opened up the building and offices at 8 a.m. Shortly after settling in at my desk I heard footsteps running up the stairs to where I worked. One of our tenants ran to me yelling, “We’ve been attacked!” I remember being confused by the statement, having absolutely no sense or framework by which to process his words. He asked if we had a television, and I led him to our deposition room where we turned it on just as the second plane hit the World Trade Center. As others arrived to work over the course of the hour, we came together, glued to the television hearing reports of the planes in Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon. Watching the towers simmer and burn for a time before the south tower just disintegrated and came to the ground was one of the most horrifying experience of my life. Knowing how many people must have been there in that moment was too much to bear. The rest of that day and week are a bit of a blur. I recall going to the Marriott Center for a prayer service and staying up until all hours of the night with my friend Chris, watching the news. Mostly I remember the feelings of love, solidarity, and concord; a sense of patriotism and shared identity and place that I hadn’t really known before.
Though today has marked an important anniversary of a horrible and tragic day, the tone in which it has been remembered and honored has been decidedly comforting to me. It seems like we have all be offered a brief (and much needed) respite from the screaming, the finger pointing, vitriol, fear mongering, and gamesmanship that has come to define political (and to an extent American) life the past couple of years. It has reminded me that Americans are fundamentally good and kind people. It is my hope that we are given time to allow these feelings of love and unity to sit and marinate, and lead us back to a time and place where American life and discourse was kinder, softer, and more civil. I hope the talking heads, the politicians, and their parrots keep quiet long enough that we as individuals and as a country can become a bit more centered.
Today on Music and the Spoken Word, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, along with Tom Brokaw, presented a beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace, accompanied by bagpipers. I couldn’t find a video clip of it on the world wide internet yet, but I think this is a beautiful substitute: