Today on the solemn tenth anniversary of 9-11-01, I will share what I wrote in our 2001 family photo album/journal of my memories of that terrible day. I know all of us will always remember where we were, what we were doing, and how we found out about this attack on our nation.
"There is no way to adequately describe the emotion felt by all of us on this day in our lives but I will try. I will begin with the fact that this day started as the picture-perfect September day: quiet blue skies: the crisp and bright blue of early fall.
It was a normal day until my daughter Jamie yelled to me from the family room. When she yelled "MOM! COME HERE!" it was the tone of her voice that told me to hurry, something terrible had happened, and at the time, I thought it might have been to our little (then) five year old boy.
When I got to the family room where she was, I could see she had the television on "Good Morning America" and it was showing a New York City skyscraper, a live shot, on fire. The host was repeating the news that a jet had JUST crashed into the World Trade Center.
All of the kids were home that morning, the older two getting ready for work or college, the younger one was homeschooled and we would soon start our kindergarten lessons. We could not take our eyes off the television, we were all watching. I ran to the phone and called several people to alert them to turn on their televisions. I will never forget hearing the sound in their voice as they watched what was unfolding.
As we continued to watch the events unfold, we were shocked to watch what at first we thought was a replay of the first plane smashing into the Twin Towers--BUT NO!--it was ANOTHER plane crashing into the other tower! We watched as this jet banked sharply and aimed straight for the building resulting in a huge fireball. Now there was NO shadow of a doubt that we were being attacked and that this was an intentional act.
The fear started to set in, with its chill, spreading from my heart outward. The live coverage was thorough, but very confusing with the conflicting accounts and the inability for the anchors to piece the events together because everything was happening so fast.
At home, we were not sure if what we were watching was another replay or another attack. In the course of their coverage, ABC linked up by phone to a live reporter from the Pentagon, who was giving updates from there on what was going on in NYC--reports that even the military was having trouble keeping straight. Even the Pentagon reporter had to repeat several times over (and over) --the news that the PENTAGON had now been attacked --for it to sink in with the anchor and the audience.
So, we knew now that the Pentagon was on fire and burning as well as both the towers. To me it seemed that our nation was already at war when you saw the mighty military headquarters of the United States burning on your television screen. I became very fearful for our President and his family, as it was clear that the targets were high-visibility ones and that what they were aiming for was symbolic.
While all this was going on, it was plain to see on the television that both of the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center were leaning over very much to one side. We exclaimed that they looked like they were going to fall...surely not! And right before our very eyes, they did, fire and all. It was astonishing and shocking to see people throw themselves out of those monumental buildings, that many stories up in the air, to escape the inferno. That and the sight of those huge buildings crumbling to dust and falling, all the people running away, was almost more than you could stand to watch. The helpless feeling and the fear made your blood run cold.
The kids were scheduled to be to work or to college, so I told them to go ahead and go, but to keep in touch with their cell phones. I hugged them and told them I loved them and told them to be careful, because at this point, I had no idea what else was going to happen, and wanted to watch the sky near me to see if planes were falling out of the skies over the whole country!
(We soon learned that one did come down over a cornfield in Pennsylvania, so it wasn't something that was wild to think about, it could happen and I thought it might!)
In fact, after 9-11, it was hard--when the planes were allowed back into the skies---to not watch a jet, I was sure it would happen again. Eventually, all flights over the United States were canceled and the silence of the skies was eerie although a couple of times that day, I did hear military aircraft flying way overhead, sometimes out of sight. When I did hear an aircraft, I made sure to look up to watch its path. All day long, I was never without a television, a radio, or a phone.
Luke and I met his friend R.J. and his mom Luanne, at a nearby park for play day, we had a standing date and decided not to break it. We watched as our kids played, kept our eyes on the skies, and talked about our fears and shed a few tears together about this and what it might mean.
After we were done, I filled up the car, and went to the bank and withdrew a good amount of cash because I wasn't sure what was going to happen and wanted some money on hand. (By the end of the day, some stations were charging as much as $5 per gallon for gas which was unbelievable to us at the time.)
I went to the store and stocked up on extra basic supplies in case trucking and trains were shut down. That night, prayer services were held all over the country and I attended one locally in our little town. Gathered in the Catholic church that day were people of ALL faiths, silent, solemn, and very grim. Some were shaken and tearful.
Our nation had been stopped in her tracks and the people instinctively knew WHO they should cry out to for help: Our God. I sat on the back row and held hands with someone I had never met before as the priest began his prayer. During that prayer, among other things, he spoke of forgiveness of those who had done this to us, and I must admit, in my heart and silently in my mind, I screamed "NO, NEVER!"
Even now, eight years later, I still have that feeling that I never want to forgive those terrorists, I'm not sure I'm the one who CAN forgive the horrible wretches who, in the name of Allah, did this to us.
I think of all who died terrible fiery deaths, those who suffocated, those in the planes who were terrorized and knew they would die, their families who experienced the terror if couldn't find their loved one, the grief of all those children left fatherless, the wives left as widows, those unborn who never were able to meet their fathers.
And, it brings a lump to my throat to think of the brave rescuers heading IN when everyone else was heading OUT.
I think of the lives lost defending our freedom and those who are still risking it all to retrieve intelligence to keep us safe. God help us. It's not over, even though that day is becoming more distant because of time.
I do know that I will never forget that horrible day and the coldness in my heart that will take a long time to go away.
I remember watching television coverage for weeks, and for hours and hours and hours. If I could not watch television, I would listen to the radio. I did not want to be left out of knowing what was developing and was so proud of our country and those who were working at the site in New York City. I watched what funerals that I could and remember honoring, donating, and helping out.
WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THE WORLD STOPPED TURNING? (click for a video summary)