Saturday, September 11, 2010
I WILL NEVER FORGET!
I was home alone, working in the kitchen, with only 1 ear tuned toward the TV. UNTIL mid-morning.....and the first plane hit the first tower. Surely it was some kind of horrible accident. The fire extinguishers and New York's finest would have the fire put out quickly. Helicopters would soon be air-lifting people off the roof and hopefully the death toll would be minimal.
The smoke billowed and flames were huge. I called Philip immediately. He was asleep in his duplex on Northwest Highway in Dallas. He lived there with 3 other guys. The phone woke him up and I told him to turn on the TV NOW.
The summer before that particular Sept. 11th he'd had the wonderful opportunity to serve as an intern for KPMG at the World Trade Center in New York. It was a great experience. It was a massive steel and glass world, buzzing with energy and excitement. I'd visited him there, eaten at the cafe, took pictures of the fountain, and rode the subway underneath those gleaming steel towers. At that time the World Trade Center seemed to be just that...the center of the WORLD. We shared some wonderful memories of that place. We were both very aware that those buildings held 50,000 people on any given day....more people that most small towns scattered across America. Where were those folks today?
Andy called from Missouri...Philip beeped in. I couldn't get close enough to my children. I wanted them in MY house, in MY arms as if to protect them from whatever was coming next.
I wanted Philip AWAY from downtown Dallas. I wanted to be sure Nancy was safe.
Honeybuns called..."have you heard anything from Mark?" Mark is my nephew whose office was across the plaza of Tower 1. No news yet.
"Dallas is on a hit list, have you talked to the boys?" Yes, we're joined by MaBell.
He was involved in securing Love Field, the airport in downtown Dallas. There was discussion of private planes being targeted and used for more destruction.
The 2nd plane hit it's target and reporters declared that a 3rd was headed for the White House or the Capital Building. I stood alone and watched the towers implode and collapse into the ground. The sky rained down with debris and people choosing to jump to their deaths rather than feel the pain of being burned alive. It was a terrible unbelievable sight.
There were other fiery scenes from the Pentagon and reported phone calls from
a plane on a flight path toward D.C. A heroic group of passengers was going to make sure that it did NOT reach it's intended destination.
That plane went down in a field near Pittsburgh.
It was a horrific day. Rumors flew fast and confusion was rampant. The sky was empty of all planes, the quiet horizon was deafening. I kept calling everyone I knew to be sure they were o.k.
Every life was put on pause, every ear strained to hear Mayor Rudy tell us what to do, what to think, how to feel.
I tracked down my nephew. He was at his Illinois house, having returned with his family so his teenage girls could start school back in the Midwest. They'd left their New York apartment only days before and the office at Tower 1 in the hands of his 7 employees. Those 7 friends were among the masses that ran for their lives and so they lived.
Philip and Andy called again and again. We spent time just connected via technology, saying nothing, crying some.
Someone from our church called...there would be a prayer meeting at 7 p.m. I mumbled something.
Honeybuns finally came home. There were no words to speak, we watched every minute of the coverage in total disbelief!
Andy called again with the news that he'd made up his mind, he was going to join the Navy Seals THAT DAY! I said o.k. He needed to DO something! We were all helpless.
I had flashbacks of my grandmother as she used to relate to me that pain of sending 3sons and 1 son-in-law to war. After this day, war was inevitable! And I wondered if my generation had the courage it would take to support it or the nerve to send our sons to a foreign land.
We all knew that life would never be the same again. The unimaginable had occurred!
From now on anything was possible.
The sun DID come up the next morning but normal life did not return. Friends and family members of friends were stuck in airports and far from home cities with no hope of returning soon. Runways were closed, car rentals were few and far between. Our daughter-in-law Jamie was in a rental car somewhere between Phoenix and Branson, trying to get home to her husband and children. I wanted her home!
Some people's planes had been grounded in Iceland, Canada, Greenland, and Europe.
Families would not be reunited for days. Some would never see their loved ones on this earth again. The death toll kept climbing. The nation groaned with grief.
Everywhere I went there were US flags displayed. Cars, businesses, homes, school, churches sported the red, white and blue. Signs went up in store fronts begging all who could read to PRAY! There was not one word, not one column or editorial page crying out for separation of church and state. Everyone knew that our only hope was to run to the God of our Fathers for help.
The empty spaces in the New York skyline matched the empty heart of America.
I will never forget.