Saturday, September 10, 2011

Remembering 9-11-01: Where Were You?

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. 



Boyett-Brinkley said...

Beautiful post . I was sitting on my sofa, having just sent my dd off to her college classes. She always watched the Today show and as soon as she left I always switched it over to a quilting show. She called from the car and told me to change it back something horrible had happened. I did and I thought I was watching a rerun of what had happened but, in fact, I was watching the second plane hit the second tower. I felt numb. My son called and told me to get my daughter back home. The college they attended is diverse and there are a lot of foreign students there. I got her on the phone and told her to come home -- she told me she was already on her way -- obviously upset because as she pulled into her favorite parking space there were middle eastern students out throwing candy and yelling in celebration of what had happened. I cried. What in the world had happened to America.

Penny said...

Good morning....
It is hard to believe that it has been 10 years since the attacks on our country. We live 30 miles north of NYC. My husband works there. He saw the second plane crash into Tower 2. He could not come home.... all the bridges/tunnels were shut down, and his car -- which was in the Port Authority -- could not be accessed, although it wouldn't have done him any good anyway. I watched it all unfold on t.v., while waiting to take my MIL to a doctor's appointment. Needless to say, I was petrified. When I learned that the Pentagon had been hit, and a plane went down in PA --- I truly thought the world was ending. I took my MIL to her appointment, all the while wondering what might happen next. I was in touch with my children, making sure they were okay. It was a totally unbelievable time.
And now.... with the possibility of another attack in NYC, I am again petrified. What a world we live in..... Pray for peace.

Simple Pleasures said...

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mary your sis said...

We were on our way to Suttons Bay, MI to have our family photos taken when you called to tell us what was unfolding.

In the years that follow, it's important to remember as you did, the horror and shock of that day, the heroism, the unity, the lives that were lost, the families of those whose lives were lost.

And we must never forget that Muslim terrorists did this in the name of allah, as you also mentioned.

I am so thankful I serve a God who created us with a free will, a choice to follow Him or not. He does not command us to kill those who will not convert as allah does, He commands us to love one another. That's why September 11 makes me thankful as well when I remember that day. It is a real-time-life-lesson about the choice to serve evil or good...

crookedbetty said...

Good morning. I was laying in bed that day and received a phone call from my mother screaming to turn on the television. I thought it was a bad dream. But soon released it was real. I stayed glued to the television. The eerie silence i will never forget. Thank you for posting such a wonderful post. I love your blog, and how patriot you are. My Grandfather was a Pearl Harbor Survivor and i grew up very patriotic. I have my victory garden, red/ white/ blue everywhere, and love our country. It seems these days people just don't get it. I live in California and it breaks my heart to see what is happening to our country. So i thank you for writing about it for people to read..

Mary Jane said...

I usually watched at least part of the early morning news shows...I'm pretty much a news junkie...but I hadn't turned it on yet that morning for some reason. My daughter called and told me to turn on the TV and told me they thought a small plane had hit the Towers, but maybe it was more than that. While we were on the phone, we saw the second one so many others, I thought it was a replay at first. It made my stomach twist. I remained glued to the TV for days. MY husband, a truck driver, was in Houston, three or four hours away, and I immediately called him. He had been unloading and hadn't had the radio on. I wanted him out of Houston is such a target, with its port and chemicals and refineries in the area. Traffic is bad there, and it took a while, but he came home, and I didn't want him to leave again. I got in contact with all four of our adult children; I really just wanted everyone close. I still can't help but audibly gasp when I see those videos of that day and see the second plane, especially.