Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering: 9-11-01

Today on the solemn anniversary of 9-11-01, I will post 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 coldness 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, the 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.

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. Christmas that year was all red, white and blue!

I have collected books and magazines from that time and hope that someday they will be treasured by our children.

(click for a video summary)


Donna Lynn said...

Thank you for the beautiful and very moving post! I was home getting my kids up for breakfast, I will never forget that terrible morning, EVER! I thank God each and everyday for our freedoms, and pray that this administration doesn't ruin that freedom, and turn us into a socialist mess!

Love your blog, God bless you!
Donna Lynn

Judy @ daily yarns said...

I was at home in my kitchen when my husband came running in saying "We're being attacked"...and a few day later our son decided to join the Army to serve his country, because he couldn't just sit back and do nothing.
We were so proud of him.

Donna said...

I was at work, sitting at my desk, when a coworker got a phone call, and shouted out the news about the first plane strike. I stood up and said out loud "on purpose?" Then I immediately said "of course!" when I recalled the earlier terrorist attack at the WTC.

Thank you for sharing your experiences of that day and time, when everything stood still in our country.

Sit A Spell said...

Thanks for sharing...

My daughter was in afternoon half day kindergarten and we hardly ever had the tv on in the morning. That morning was no different. I was in my kitchen getting lunch ready when my Hubby called from work. I turned on the tv and remember...just standing there in shock and praying my little 5 yr old girl did not see what I had just seen. A friend of mine worked in that building, so fear covered me for her life. I prayed and cried and prayed some more.

Anonymous said...

I was home when the news came on as to what was happening. My first reactions was that it was a commercial about a movie and then the reality hit. Our son was stationed just 55 miles from NYC and was immediately armed and on guard duty. I couldn't pull myself away from the tv for days or maybe it was weeks - and, yes, I was constantly looking at the skies when I heard a plane. God forgive us if we ever forget about this day. Thanks for your beautiful tribute.

A Semper Fi Mom

Carol Murdock said...

I will never forget how it felt that day to see my homeland under attack! God Bless America!

morninglorycottage said...

Thank you for sharing so much of yourself on this blog. I am sure in every generation there is a moment that will never be forgotten. Those who lived through Pearl Harbor, those who lived through the attack on Fort Sumter in 1861 that split our country, JFK's assasination and other presidents before him. May our generation never forget this.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing what your thoughts were 8 years ago, Joni. This morning, I watched a replay of some of the coverag from that day and could not help but shed tears.

On that day, I was home with my two toddlers playing...preparing for a meeting of our little homeschool preschool group to be held that afternoon. One of my friends from that group called to let me know the meeting was cancelled due to the events of the day. I had no idea what she was talking about. I remember it being hard to pull myself away from the news coverage...trying to process what had happened and what would happen next.

Prayers for all...

Sister Number Five said...

I was at work, listening to the Christian radio station that my employer broadcasted over the speakers through the phone speaker by my register when it happened. It was a quiet morning with few customers. I stood there & listened and called some of my co-workers to gather around the pole with the phone. Later that day, my son had a school soccer game on Mackinac Island, so I took my mother, daughter, her friend and the Chineese foreign exchange student who was staying with my mom to it. There was tight security on the Mackinac Bridge as that was thought to be a target. I remember feeling uneasy being near it and a sigh of releif as the ferry boat pulled away. We listened to the radio all the way there and back. I also remeber seeing the gas prices go up at stations along the 1-1/2 hour drive up & then back & being astonished! It was a few days before I was able to watch a t.v. with the views and re-enactments of the event. I sat watching on my day off for a few hours. It broke my heart to see the events un-fold. The prayer services attended by Preident Bush greatly moved me. The Sunday after, I remember seeing people in church who had never been, or ones who hadn't attended in a long time; it really brought people together for awhile!

Kathie Truitt said...

Beautiful account, Joni. So moving.

You can read my account of that day on my blog, but I really wanted to touch on what Sharon said about her young son being stationed in NY. One of the things that stands out in Jay's mind - his office is next to the White House - is that when he went down to Federal Square the first thing he saw was a young Marine - only about 19. Bless his heart, he was holding a machine gun just about as big as he was and he was so scared he was trembling. Just a child. I am sure he became a man that day.

Unknown said...

Hello: I discovered your blog yesterday while looking for a blog designer for my blog. I immediately added myself to your followers. I love the thoughts you shared will never be the same..God Bless America

peggy said...

There will never be a day in the rest of our lives that we fail to remember that day. Your account was very moving and thoughtful.

Thistle Cove Farm said...

Never forget any of the horrors over the decades, lest we re-live them due to our arrogance and ignorance.
Your account is very moving...

Twisted Fencepost said...

I WILL never forget.
And MAY never forgive.

Kathleen Grace said...

My girls and I were home, I homeschooled at the time and we were watching Good Morning America when the first plane hit. I thought it was a terrible accident although I remember wondering what kind of idiot couldn't see a building right in front of them! When the second plane hit I knew it was no accident. I was glad my girls were home with me. I am proud of America, I remeber how touched I was by the condolences from other countries, especially Britain. I don't think anyone can forget that day.