I was standing in my workout clothes in the middle of the gym.Surrounded by televisions blaring different channels, overhead music on the speaker system, and the clanking and slamming of weights being lifted and dropped.
I remember wondering why all the sudden it was quiet.Why everyone had gathered around one television and the music had stopped.We all stood there, staring up at the wall-mounted TV.At 20 years old, I wasn’t truly sure what I was looking at, or what it meant.How it would impact anything, everything.I watched live as the first tower fell.We carpooled back to our homes in silence.When I got home I turned on the radio, told my mom what was going on.I got the radio on just in time to hear about the second tower, and then the Pentagon.I stayed glued to the radio until I was late to work.I worked at a bank at the time, which of course was a tricky place to be in the middle of a crisis. We had to be there. To be confident and appropriately “cheerful”. To help people not panic and pull all their money. There was absolutely no options for staying home, or even keeping abreast of the news. Having a TV on, or even the radio was not an option. To say I was frustrated is an understatement.Later that day, I went to attend class at BYU. They were all canceled.
Although I did not suffer personal loss in the events that day, it was perhaps the first time I felt connected to a community outside my own. Connected in a way that defied distance, ideology, or age. And when, eight years later, I was able to stand in New York City for the first time, I wanted to somehow tell those people there that I knew. That I had seen and remembered. That despite the fact that we were complete strangers, we were neighbors, too. Brothers. Sisters. That back home in a little city, we were praying for and loving them. Putting messages on our billboards. Raising money. Because that’s what people do when they love each other. They take care of each other.
We remember, New York City.And we love you, too.
PS Billboard pictures were taken with a black and white film camera one year after, out the window of a moving car. Pardon the focus.