Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Running and Remembering

I left my place around 5am this morning to go on a run. It's a practice I've grown accustomed to over the last six years.

As I headed south, the city was dark and quiet. There was a nice breeze which I welcomed after a few days heat and humidity.

It wasn't until I turned around just south of the golf course that I saw the sun break the horizon. I chugged along until the path brought me closer to the shoreline. That's when I came face to face with the sunrise. It was a magnificent display of rays through a low hanging cloud. As I marveled in the beauty of the sunrise, I remembered that today is September 11th.

I paused for a moment to gather my thoughts, then continued on the route home.  How could I have started today not realizing what the date was?

It brought me back to where I was then. I was a senior in college, finishing my last semester at Illinois State. I had the TV on and was getting ready for work. Back then, I worked on Tuesdays and Wednesday mornings for the Illinois State Representative of the area. Truthfully, I don't know that my 21 year old mind could even process what I saw. I'd never been to New York or knew much about the World Trade Center, but in the next few days, I would learn a lot.

I drove to work just to find out that the office would be closed that day. Illinois State emailed it's students later that morning saying the university would be closed. I was near the gym I belonged to, so I headed there. I got on the treadmill and started in on a mile or two run. As I watched news coverage on surrounding TVs, it started to sink in.

It was standing on that treadmill that I started to think of how the world could change. One of my first thoughts was for my brother, then in basic training with the US Army in Ft. Knox, Kentucky. Would my brother's dreams of traveling to Europe as my Grandfather had during WWII still happen? Would he be sent somewhere as soon as he graduated from basic? What if we do go to war. Will the government re-institute the draft? Could I be drafted?

I headed back home and met up with my friend Mary Beth on the quad. Illinois State held a remembrance service which we had learned of through word of mouth. As we walked up to the quad, my phone rang. My uncle had been on business in Springfield. Springfield was, in essence, shut down. At the same time, people were fleeing the city, which is where he needed to head to get home. We met up for lunch and he killed some time before heading back.

That evening, after watching nearly a solid day of news, I needed to get out of the apartment. I headed back to the gym. Going to the gym twice in a day is not something I did back then (or do now, really). My mind was racing. What was going to happen now?

Last fall, I went to New York for the first time. My Mom and I visited many sights, including the 9/11 Memorial. During that visit, I took a few photos, including this one:

This morning, I took the few miles I had on the route back to reflect on a few things. To remember what happened. Honor those who are no longer with us because of this day. To thank those who have been sent to conflicts within and outside our borders in the name of terrorism and Homeland Security. Before I knew it, I was at my front door.

12 years is a long time, though sometimes it seems like yesterday.

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