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Sunday, September 11, 2005

Remembering 9-11-2001


It is hard to believe that four years have passed since the day that changed the way Americans see the world and our place in it. Four years since a tragedy shook a nation to its core and brought home how vulnerable we are in this ever shrinking world. Even today, people still long to get information about the event. We want to hear news reports, read the 9-11 Commission Report, and watch movies based on the events of that horrible day that is etched into our psyche. We want to make sense of it all, even though such an act can never make sense when innocent people are targeted and killed to make a political or religious point.

Just like other events in our history (JFK's assassination, the Challenger and Columbia disasters, man walking on the moon), people remember where they were and what they were doing on 9-11 when they heard the news. Sharing these stories brings us together and reminds us of what we have in common. It gives us a common ground to meet on, an event to reflect on and to discuss amongst ourselves. Today, I will share my story from 9-11 and hope that as the reader, you will gain something from the sharing and that you in turn will share your story. It is not that my story is special, it is representative of millions of other stories and is part of the common thread that binds us all.

The morning of September 11th was like any beautiful fall morning in Virginia. But I really hadn't had a chance to notice it because I had a sick child who I needed to get to the doctor. My husband had started a new contract in Canada that day and we were missing him already. I had some time to get a few things done before heading to the doctor's office, so I was busy scrubbing the kitchen floor when the phone rang.

"Have you heard the news? There is something about a plane crash, but the internet is jammed, and I can't find out any information." My husband, confirmed news junkie, was frantic. I was thinking...what a shame...but boy, I sure would like to get this floor cleaned before leaving.

I walked into the living room and turned on the TV. The New York skyline filled the screen and smoke billowed into the air. I sat, kitchen floor forgotten, phone in hand and read the ticker across the bottom of the screen. A plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. How horrible I thought as I told my husband the news. Then I watched in horror as a second plane crashed into the World Trade Center. It was now obvious that this was no accident.

I watched as Americans ran down the streets of New York and thought about my own visit there less than a year before. I thought about the restaurant in the World Trade Center I had eaten at with my family. As I was in the next room, getting my children dressed, I heard a loud exclamation from the announcer on TV. I hurried in in time to see the last seconds of the first tower collapse. I was stunned. All I could think about was how many people must have been in that building.

I wanted to stay and watch, but it was time to leave for the doctor. The whole way there, I had the radio on and told the kids to keep quiet. I heard about the Pentagon, about the collapse of the second tower, about missing planes, about planes being grounded all over the country, and about car bombs in DC. I heard they were evacuating the White House and I was afraid. We were being attacked.

What would happen to my country. My husband was in Canada. What would we do? Would he be able to come home? How long was this attack going to last?

I entered the waiting room and could tell by the silent and stunned faces that everyone there knew what was going on. The doctor was piping radio news over the office intercom and we all sat listening and wondering. Children played quietly, with no clue that the world had changed forever in an instant. Quiet murmurs surrounded me as people spoke in shocked whispers about the morning's events. We were seen by the doctor, got some medicine and hurried home. I put in a movie for the children and turned the news back on and called my husband.

He was in shock and talked of the support he was getting from his newly met co-workers. We tried to comfort one another as best we could and shared the information we had. I couldn't stop staring at the television...at the images of the buildings collapsing, the blackened side of the Pentagon, a lonely field in Pennsylvania, the people walking down the streets of New York...covered in ash.

I couldn't wrap my mind around the fact that people hated us so much that they would do such a thing. I was proud of my President as he rose to the occasion and brought us together. I was proud of my countrymen as flags flew everywhere I went, as money poured into the city of New York and as we swore that life would go on and we would honor the victims and the heros of this day that shook America, but did not topple her.

God bless the police and the firefighters who responded. God bless the police, firefighters and civilians that lost their lives. God bless our President who has had to deal with events no other president ever has. God bless our military who even now fights to protect democracy both at home and abroad. God bless America.

Picture credit: Public Domain

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