9 years ago today, I was in Sydney, Australia.
I'd been there for about 6 months, going to University.
I lived alone and had very few friends (being the only white person in a school full of mostly Asian students was very difficult). Luckily, my studies kept me extremely busy.
My boyfriend at the time and I were just about to go to sleep, when he received a text message from a friend
"Turn on TV, watch WWIII"
World War III? Was that a movie?
At first we looked at the images thinking "What is this?"
it sank in. Oh. Dear. God.
We've been attacked.
We stayed up all night watching (it was morning in the States).
The next day at school, I fielded questions and condolences and watched the news at each opportunity.
When I came home and was walking towards my house, I saw a rainbow arch over the ocean, in the midst of a storm. My heart soared. I thought "how...appropriate". Hope in a time of utter disaster.
I ran to get my camera from my apartment, and dashed out to the cliffs above the ocean to get this shot. I needed to remember that piece of hope.
That everything would be alright.
I never realised how much I loved America until I lived overseas. I don't always love how it's run, or the things that have been done in it's name, or the crazy consumerist culture.
But those rolling hills, arching mountains, flowing rivers. The people...the lovely, amazing people. I love them all. What I felt that day was a crazy mixture of grief, aching sadness, disbelief, and stubborn hope.
Americans are fighters. It's bred into us. We will never be beaten down.
But I also hope that we can find common ground with those who are different.
I hope that we can remember that we ALL ended up here because of our ancestors travels.
And that we are all diverse and yet, a family.
America, I love you, and today, I remember those who we lost and who gave their lives for others on September 11, 2001.