Monday, September 11, 2006

September 11, 2006

Wow, September 11. Can you believe it has been five years?
The song from Alan Jackson comes to mind, "Where were you when the world stopped turning?", I will never forget what I was doing that day.
I remember my sister, who is 17 years older than I am, telling me that she could remember exactly what she was doing the day President Kennedy was assasinated. I remember thinking, that's weird, how could you remember *exactly* what you were doing so long ago?

Well, I understand now. Some things that happen in your life are just so profound that they burn the details of that event permanently into your mind. The only thing I remember with such clarity and emotion are the births of my children, and the death of my brother when I was 15.

I was getting the kids ready for school. My son was 10, and my daughter 7. It was about 6:26 am when I got a call from my husband, turn the tv to a news channel he said. He sounded funny, speaking in hushed tones.
I remember thinking he was probably being watched by a boss, and wasn't supposed to be on the phone.
I turned on the tv and sat in shock at what I saw. The first plane had just hit tower one, and newscasters were saying what a shame it was, and wow, how could anyone miss seeing that big tower in front of their plane?

Nope, I thought, that isn't damage from a little private plane, and there was this strange feeling in my stomach. In complete disbelief I watched as this huge, huge plane crashed into the second tower. Now the news talk turned much more serious, was it an act of terrorism? I remember being completely terrified, and when the talk turned to just how many people might actually be working in those towers, heartbroken.
"Why are you crying mommy?" my son asked. What do I tell him, I thought.... what could I say..... what was happening.....

Soon after, I had to take my kids to their bus so that I could go down the mountain to Bakersfield. See, I was getting fingerprinted that day for a new job I was supposed to start in three days. Impossible! I couldn't possibly send them off to school and drive like a normal person all that way. What if something happened to them, what if Los Angeles was next? Or one of the air bases that are out near us?

I can't believe it now, but somehow I managed to get them to school and found myself on the freeway. I was listening to the local news stations, feeling so lost. I distinctly remember looking around at other drivers, seeing them laughing, singing.... didn't they know what was happening? I realized tears were just pouring down my face when I heard that the Pentagon had been hit. What?? There were at least 4 other planes targeting other major cities? Rumors were flying, it was shear panic out there. L.A. was next, the White house had been evacuated, a plane had been shot down by the military over D.C.....

I entered the underground parking area and parked in a daze. I walked outside my car and there were a few people standing around someone who had his door open and his radio blaring near the guard booth. We all stood there and listened together in horror as we heard the anchorman cry out in shock that tower two had just crumbled. We were all crying, all of us strangers, reaching out for each other and looking for some comfort on a day when the world went crazy. After hugs and whispered prayers, we went our seperate ways.

Fingerprinted in record time, I flew home, intent on picking up my children and taking them home to safety with me. But, I decided that perhaps it was best for them to be at school, in a normal routine, just another school day for them. Time enough for reality to intrude on their little lives...

After reaching home, I turned on the news and watched in horror with the rest of the world as terrifying images filled the screen. I was so glad that my children weren't home. It gave me time to absorb some of it, to try and grasp the immensity of the tragedy. By now my husband was home, their plant had shut down- in honor of their NY division, housed in the World Trade Center.

So many memories, so many terribly images, so many tears shed for the lost ones and their families....

September 11, 2001 brought out the very worst, and the very best in us.
The worst being those who lived on our soil and worked alongside of us day after day only to betray us so heineously. Those who bring destruction and death to others in the name of religion.

The best being the millions of US citizens all over this wide country coming together in our time of crisis and uniting... turning our broad, vast country into one small community that circled the wagons and cared for our own. Our allies weeping and mourning with us, then standing beside us as we sought to bring justice to those who had committed this devastating crime upon USA soil. Our brave, brave, firefighters, policemen and rescue workers who tirelessly worked day after day in unimaginable circumstances, forced to witness horror after horror, all to bring someone out alive. Even after losing so many of their own.... Then, when it was clear there wasn't anyone else coming out alive, continuing to work to bring something, anything, out to give closure to grieving relatives. God bless them.

I wish we could be so united all the time. I have never been so proud to be an American. So proud of our leaders, our president who led us through this time of crisis with quiet strength and dedicated faith. Of our servicemen and women, our firefighters.... Remember the flags? Everywhere you looked, there was an American flag flying proudly! Remember how we honked and waved, brought cookies to our local fire stations, just to do *something*? Remember standing in line to give blood? Remember choking up while singing our National Anthem? Why can't we be so united at all times......

Never forget, always remember. We did not bring this on ourselves. This was not brought about by our foreign policies. This was not caused by our actions abroad. This was a crime committed against our country, unprovoked, unprecedented, and unforgivable. It is not a matter of *if* it will happen again, but *when*.
Will we be so united the next time? Or will there be the same finger pointing, blame shifting, and division then, that there is right now? I can only hope we will remember....

I will never forget this day.
God Bless America.