September 11, 2001 – A day when normalcy ceased to exist. A day that we were forever changed.

Shortly after arriving at the office the word spread that one of the World Trade Center towers had been hit by a plane. My assumption, along with many others, was that a small single engine plane had collided with the building. It was unimaginable to think of anything terrorist related. Those events happened in other countries, not ours.

Several of us gathered in our office meeting room and stared in disbelief as the events of the morning unfolded. The collapse of the buildings was replayed over and over and over again, almost as if the outcome might be changed with the next viewing. Tears flowed steadily and prayers came soon after. Tears for the innocent loss of life and those left behind, for our country and loss of security and tears for our own families.

I wanted to rush to my girls, who were 11 and 14 at the time, and hold them close. I nervously wondered what other attacks might be planned. And, like the rest of the country, I became angry that someone dares to perform such a senseless act. I also decided soon after that I would refuse to let the fear of a possible reoccurrence dictate the events of my life.

Our country quickly became united, defiant, patriotic, religious and family focused. It is unfortunate that a tragedy has to be the catapult for a positive change. This 10th anniversary will bring nervousness and a renewed patriotic focus.

This past January I had the privilege of representing the Illinois Association of REALTORS® at the Inman conference in New York City, a place I had wanted to visit since 9/11. I walked around the hallowed ground where the World Trade Center towers once stood and witnessed the progress of the rebuilding and the memorial being constructed. I walked to view the Statue of Liberty and pondered our “melting pot” attitude. The visit was a very moving experience for me.

This 10th anniversary I will spend my morning at church where I am sure the service will be devoted to honor the memory of those directly affected by 9/11. I will also be wearing a commemorative 9/11 Never Forget pin. This moment in time we as a country will pause, remember and pay tribute to the lives lost. We must though, Never Forget, not just this event, but the sacrifices our armed men and women and their families make to protect our freedom.

If you haven’t seen this already, here is the link to the National September 11 Memorial which will be dedicated this Sunday on the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks:

Sheryl Grider Whitehurst, ABR, CRB, GRI, e-Pro is the 2011 President of the Illinois Association of REALTORS®.