Finding reason in tragedy: A 9/11 memory


The Appalachian Online

Kaitlan Morehouse

Like most 20-year-olds who lived in North Carolina at the time of 9/11, I too do not remember much.

I barely remember being in my T.C. Henderson Elementary School second grade classroom. If it were not for all of my classmates saying we were for sure in the classroom, I doubt I would remember even that.

I vaguely recall my teacher turning on our box TV up in the corner of the room by the door, searching for the channel that all the other classrooms had on.

It was not until some years later, when I was told one of my relatives was in one of the towers, that Sept. 11 really started to affect me. It’s almost as if it didn’t become real for me until then.

It became all the more real on my senior trip when some of my Rosman High School senior class visited the memorial, and I found my dad’s second cousin’s name, Marylou Langley, who worked on floor 96 of the south tower.

Part of me feels betrayed and a little selfish because I never got to meet her, much less know much about her, but nonetheless, I genuinely feel the utmost love and respect for her like the family that she is.

As she was my grandmother’s cousin, the loss affects my grandmother just as much now as it did that beautiful Sept. 11 morning when she first heard the news of the first plane crash into the north tower of the World Trade Center on the radio. She was driving on New York I-80, going to see her mother with her two daughters and her 10-month-old granddaughter.

At first, she thought it was odd a plane would come so close to the World Trade Center. She found it all the more baffling when the announcers identified the plane as commercial jet. However, when it was announced a second commercial jet hit the south tower. That was the moment she understood.

“That’s when tears started because I knew in my heart it was a terrorist attack,” my grandmother said.

After the attack, my second cousin’s husband, a New York Fire Department fireman, responded and worked tirelessly for many days at the site. No one hears him talk about it, nor do they ask.

“Marylou had a lovely, but sad funeral with a Mass at her Parish church, and a burial near her parents,” my grandmother said.

My mind, without skipping a beat, now goes to Marylou whenever I think of the event. The attack is hard enough without some reason to make it harder, to make it tangible.

My second cousin’s husband doesn’t talk about the event, my grandmother can’t talk about it without getting emotional, and I now find it harder and harder to talk about. It really is this binding glue that brings our families and our nation together. This thing that affected not one, but all of us, and still affects us to this day.

It really goes to show everything happens for a reason.

Kaitlan Morehouse, a sophomore journalism major from Lake Toxaway, is an intern news reporter