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Commentary: Emotions still hit hard when thinking of 9/11

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Jodi Rall, Columnist File Photo

Jodi Rall is a Brentwood resident and writer. 

As the Herald staff was planning stories for our news budget, a story that I was working on made me think. I have been asking community members and leaders to share their memories of where they were when the horrific events of Sept. 11 occurred. 

The emotions flood over me just remembering.  

My husband was on a business trip to Chicago. The girls had already gone to school. Our sons were in pre-K and the 3-year-old class at Brentwood United Methodist Church’s day school. The youngest did not have school that day, as it was a Tuesday.  

I was in the master bathroom and had the TV on in the bedroom. We were getting ready to leave to take my oldest son to the day school when he came running into the bathroom saying, “Mama, a plane just crashed into the World Trade Center!” — as a side note, he knew what the buildings were at his age because his daddy had been there on business many times before.  

I walked into the bedroom holding my youngest son and just sat down on the bed. 

Surreal and stunned, I just thought, “How is this happening?”  

In a state of shock, I knew my boys could not watch this. We left for school, and I frantically called my husband. I could not reach him and, thinking that Chicago, like New York, was a big city with tall buildings, felt sick to my stomach.  

After delivering my older son to his classroom, I stood with other mothers and the children’s minister. We were all upset and just wanted to be with one another.  

I took my baby boy with me to the chapel and just sat there.  

That evening, three of my four children had a lot of questions. My youngest was quiet and clingy, as he sensed that something was terribly wrong. I did not have the answers to the whys. “Terrorism” became a new word in their vocabulary.  

I went outside with the children to keep them away from the TV. Protecting their innocence seemed important, and honestly, I could not keep watching. 

We lived in a cul-de-sac, and all the children were out in the street with chalk.  

This is the moment that haunts me until this day. I asked my oldest son, who was 5 years old, “Son, what are you drawing?” 

With the sweet innocence of a child, he said, “Mama, I am drawing stairs and ladders for the people to get out of the buildings.” He had drawn the towers, and coming out of windows were staircases and ladders to the ground below.  

My heart hurt on so many levels. Tears filled my eyes.  

When my husband finally got home to us, our son led him into the street to show him the drawings. When Eric looked at me, his eyes were also full of tears.  

Today, we still talk about that story. Everyone remembers where they were when our world was forever changed.  

No, we will never forget what happened 20 years ago. We must teach our children today about these events because of how many Americans died that day.  

Our first responders are heroes every day, but, on that day, they sacrificed their lives for us, and every day I am grateful to them.  

God Bless America.  

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