For Staff Sergeant Kelly Salinas, the news of the attacks on the World Trade Center, just miles from her home in Hoboken, NJ, was a rude awakening.
"I was actually asleep and my grandmother yelled to me, 'Kelly look what they're doing to our country!'" she recalls. "So I ran out and looked through our window---through our window we can see the whole New York skyline. All I remember is seeing this huge blob go towards the World Trade Center, and not sure what it was at that time. All I saw was that it disappeared, you couldn't see the impact, because where it hit was hidden by the first tower."
Coincidentally, Salinas had enlisted in the military just 5 days before that infamous act of war took place on U.S. soil; a choice she says was validated by the attacks.
"Right before I signed up the mindset of the country was incredibly different, if you can try to remember to back then, everybody felt a little more safe, but after it happened, I kind of felt a calling," she says of her enlistment. "Like I was supposed to. And I felt proud that I would be able to serve our country after what happened."
From the banks of Hoboken, Salinas and others watched in horror as the towers, which had once stood as a symbol of the American spirit, crumbled into the streets below. For her, remembering 9/11 is painful, but she says truly remembering could do us all some good.
"It just felt like we were all rooting for the same cause, for freedom, and how much we love our country. And I do feel like we might be falling away from that right now," she says. "I hope that this anniversary reminds everybody the importance of us as a country and how important it is for us to stay together and support our country."
Now, stationed at Robins Air Force base, Salinas serves the country she loves, still finding it hard to come to terms with the events on that fateful day.
"It's hard to explain, hard to put into words the anger and the fear," she says, fighting back the tears. "It's just hard to talk about, I mean, even ten years later. When I go home, I still stare at the skyline, like it was yesterday."
That skyline would be forever changed. The 9/11 memorial site will feature two large waterfalls and reflecting pools, situated in the footprints of the two towers. For more information on the 9/11 Memorial site, visit www.911memorial.org