I’ve never written about September 11. I have always figured that there are enough documentaries and stories that reflect that horrific day.

Today, I came home from a happy hour with friends to my family happily playing games in the living room. I asked what they learned in school and my 8-year old daughter said, “It’s Patriot’s Day.” When I asked her what that meant, she said, “It’s the day the twin towers fell.” My 6-year old added, “Today is the day to thank police and firefighters.”

Wow. My girls are growing up. They are starting to understand. From that realization, we told our daughters the story of where we were that day. Here goes.

I was in my senior year at Ohio State. Classes hadn’t started yet. I had taken the red-eye from San Francisco to Columbus early in the morning on September 11 after visiting Rob for a long weekend. After landing, I quickly got ready for work and headed out.

I was driving to my internship at Junior Achievement of Central Ohio when the radio announcers started talking nonsense about a plane crash in NYC. I parked my car and walked into the office. Everyone was huddled into the single conference room around a small television.

The nonsense was true. It was really happening.

I quickly made my way to a phone and called Rob. It was unusual for me to call him to tell him I arrived home safely (especially if it meant calling him early in the morning), so he was confused. All I said was, “Go turn on the TV.”

We continued to huddle around that small TV. I worried about my friend Brieanne who was back in NYC for the summer.

I realized that I should call my parents. Once again, I wasn’t accustomed to sharing with them my flight itineraries. They only knew I was flying across the country on Sept. 11. They would have no idea if I could have been on one of the planes. I reached my Dad and told him I was back. I was OK.

We all left work in a haze. What was happening? Who did this? How many people would die? How could we move forward?

These were heavy thoughts to grapple with as a 21-year old. I typically threw away my plane tickets, but will hold this one close forever.

I got off a plane on September 11 and walked into my normal world.

Thousands of others did not.

I think the daily calendar quote from September 11, 2001 said it best: “Yesterday I dared to struggle. Today I dare to win.” ~ Bernadette Devlin

17 years later we don’t forget. 17 + 17 + 17 and on and on. We will never forget.



Small Town Leadership Founder; Natalie believes everything she needed to know to succeed in her career she learned by growing up in a town of 600 people. As a Certified Professional Coach and award-winning public speaker, she helps her clients and audiences make wherever they are feel like a small town. She lives in Dublin, Ohio with her husband, Rob, a professor at Ohio State and two little girls.

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