The caption in my scrapbook says simply “View from the World Trade Center Observation Floor” beneath a faded photo.

I had stood, along with a number of my high school classmates, on the 110th floor observation area of the building known as Tower 2 on my senior class trip. Our trip included a bus tour of the city and the World Trade Center was a stop on that tour. I very clearly remember the tour guide mentioning that so many people worked in the twin towers that the businesses had to stagger lunch times because not all of the workers could fit on the sidewalk at one time.

That comment was what flashed through my mind the minute someone in our high school office said something was going on with the World Trade Center. Second period had just started (my conference period that particular year) and I ran back to my room and turned on the television in time to see the airplane hit the second tower. I immediately thought of all the people that had to have been in that building and with a sick feeling realized that I had just witnessed the death of hundreds of people.

That evening it still didn’t seem real. It was a perfect September day with an unusually clear, blue sky. I ventured away from the television for a short period of time to do some yard work and was struck by the absence of the contrails from airliners we usually see in the skies. It seemed so incredibly peaceful, but yet so wrong.

This past week I have heard many people ask “Where were you on September 11?” I, like many others, will not forget what I was doing on that fateful day. But it occurs to me that the question about where I was on that day, while perhaps interesting, is not really the question I should be asking. Maybe the real question is “Where am I today?” and “Where will I be on September 11, 2021?” Am I living in such a way that the world, at least my part of it, is at least a little better?

All of us know the first stanza of the “Star Spangled Banner.” But today I find this stanza especially meaningful:

O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust”
And the Star-spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!