Where were you when the world stopped turning? September 11. 2001 is a day that will forever be remembered, or it should be. It lives as our generation's Pearl Harbor. Everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing when they heard about the Towers falling. Memory a memory was born that day, both horrific and beautiful. A song was also born from the event.
I, like so many others, remember where I was September 11, 2001. It was my first day of 4th grade. School had started late that year due to construction. I didn't find out what was happening until I got home, but we all knew something was wrong during the school day. I remember hearing teachers whispering and crying out in the hallway. There was a hush that seemed to wash over the whole school. There was something in the air that even an 8 year old could sense.
Even when I did find out the details of what happened that fateful morning, I didn't quite understand. I didn't know what it meant nor how to process what I felt. September 11, 2001 was the day I first realized that the world wasn't safe, that really awful things could happen to innocent people. I didn't know how to deal with that. I remember listening to the adults around me expressing anger, bewilderment, and grief. I remember my grandmother worrying aloud that the country might enter another world war (she'd lived through one already). I stared at the TV for days and I just couldn't believe that it was real.
Over the years, I've seen a lot of people disparage/look down on Alan Jackson's song "Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning?" I'm not sure why they feel the need to do so. They often say "it's pandering", "it's cheesy", and "it's stupid". I disagree with every fiber of my being. It's a beautifully simple song that comes from a very genuine place. Unlike other songs that were released after the 9/11 attacks, full of bravado and anger, this song was more about quiet bewilderment, sorrow, fear, and a desire to understand what happened and why it happened. This song was for those who were still sitting on the ground, looking around, wondering what happened, who weren't ready to get back up and fight just yet....
For an 8 year old girl, who didn't know how to process what happened, this song was a blessing. It was the first "commentary" on the attacks that I could understand and relate to. Here is a song that presents a grown adult admitting that he doesn't know much about politics and such, as well as trying to process how we all felt that day. Jackson presented it in such a simple but powerful way, that the song truly did speak to so many people, of all ages. The depth of the song doesn't come from the lyrics, but from the heart of the deliverer/author.
"Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning" told an 8 year old girl that it was Ok if you did not understand or know everything what was going on. It also told us all that we could feel whatever it is we felt, and that we were not alone in our feelings. For that, I am grateful to Mr. Jackson.
And to all those snobs that hate on and stick their noses up at that song, I'd recommend finding something more productive and positive to do with your lives. Come down off your high horses, and listen with an open mind and heart.
"But I know Jesus, and I talk to God, and I remember this from when I was young: Faith, Hope, and Love are some good things He gave us, and the greatest is Love."
I am a wild rose
who longs to be free,
but I am stuck in this pot
and it seems I’ll never be
I gaze up at the sky
and I see the sun,
I see the birds flying high
and I wish that I was one
But here I am
rooted in the dirt,
dreaming of open spaces
deep in the desert
I am a wild rose
longing to be free,
but alas, I fear
I’ll never be.
~ Written by Liz Austin 2019
Born and raised in Upstate NY, Liz is a freelance writer. She has written for websites, blogs, and magazines for the last 10 years. She also acts as a proofreader and beta reader for several authors, all the while working on her first book.