Ten years ago I parked my car by the gym. As I reached to turn off the ignition, the radio announcer said, "A plane just flew into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center."
I remember it as clearly as if it just happened.
Some things we never forget -- nor should we. Alan Jackson expressed it in lyrics of his song, "Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)."
"Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?
Were you in the yard with your wife and children
Or working on some stage in L.A.?
Did you stand there in shock at the sight of that black smoke
Risin' against that blue sky?
Did you shout out in anger, in fear for your neighbor
Or did you just sit down and cry?
Did you weep for the children who lost their dear loved ones
And pray for the ones who don't know?
Did you rejoice for the people who walked from the rubble
And sob for the ones left below?
Did you burst out in pride for the red, white and blue
And the heroes who died just doin' what they do?
Did you look up to heaven for some kind of answer
And look at yourself and what really matters?
I'm just a singer of simple songs.
I'm not a real political man.
I watch CNN but I'm not sure I can tell
You the difference in Iraq and Iran.
But I know Jesus and I talk to God.
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith, hope and love are some good things He gave us
And the greatest is love.
Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?
Were you teaching a class full of innocent children
Or driving down some cold interstate?
Did you feel guilty 'cause you're a survivor
In a crowded room did you feel alone?
Did you call up your mother and tell her you loved her?
Did you dust off that Bible at home?
Did you open your eyes, hope it never happened
Close your eyes and not go to sleep?
Did you notice the sunset the first time in ages
Or speak to some stranger on the street?
Did you lay down at night and think of tomorrow
Or go out and buy you a gun?
Did you turn off that violent old movie you're watchin'
And turn on 'I Love Lucy' reruns?
Did you go to a church and hold hands with some strangers
Did you stand in line and give your own blood?
Did you just stay home and cling tight to your family
Thank God you had somebody to love?"
I am pretty sure you remember where you were and what you were feeling. Now, 10 years later, the media is letting us know what has been done and those things that should have been corrected for our country's safety and have not been done.
We have the Patriot Act, the Transportation Security Administration, increased surveillance and Homeland Security. Communication gaps still exist.
We also are urged by our president to renew the spirit of unity and acts of kindness that were evident throughout the country following that September day.
We have implemented security measures, but have we ourselves changed? Has our vigilance turned to suspicion, warranted or not? Our helpfulness to doubt and skepticism? Our generosity to stinginess and judgmental thoughts? Acceptance of others to racism and irrational fear of those different in religious beliefs, color or land of origin?
It is true we live in a world where violence occurs each day and where economic upheaval is tearing at people's hearts and lifestyles. People are suffering loss from storms and fires.
Even so, we must not forget we can be greater than the stresses that nip at our heels and threaten to overtake us. We are Americans; we are survivors.
And if we heed and live the greatest commandment: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind ... and love your neighbor as yourself," then we can say, "Yes, we have changed; we are better than we might have been."
Ruth Moriarity is a member of the Generations advisory committee.