Remembering September 11th
Topic: Personal Commentary
It was six years ago today that several groups of foreign men boarded American aircraft under the guise of harmless travelers and crashed them into the middle of our safe, comfortable lives. I was standing in my living room straightening my tie before running off to a meeting. I was watching Good Morning America. They were covering a live news event. Apparently a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers.
The video displayed smoke rising into the sky from a gaping hole in the side of the north tower.
The Wife walked into the room, asked what was going on.
"They say a plane crashed into the Trade Center," I explained.
Just then United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the south tower.
We both cried out in alarm and horror in chorus with the GMA anchors.
We watched the news for several minutes, glued to the set. Was this really happening?
At last, I had to leave for my meeting. Suzanne and I held each other, sharing the knowledge that at any time, any moment some terrible twist of fate could tear our lives apart. Throughout the day we would call each other almost every hour to hear the other's voice.
All the way to my appointment I listened to NPR as they - like everyone else - tried to sort things out.
I was chairing a coalition meeting over at a county office building. Folks were freaked out about what happened in New York City. A TV was rolled into the conference room and we learned of the plane crashing into the Pentagon. There was sobbing in the room as we watched the south tower collapse.
The fact that we were meeting in a government building rubbed the coalition members wrong. Unable to get anything done, the meeting was adjourned.
My plan for the day was to visit a dozen or so accounts around the north Texas area. Fool that I was, I tried to stick to my schedule. Everywhere, it was the same.
No one could concentrate. No one could focus on anything other than the horrible news coming out of New York, Washington, and Pittsburgh.
"My son's in New York," One of my customers said absently. "I can't get him on the phone."
Another worried, "My wife's on a plane now. They landed her in Wichita, Kansas. How the hell is she going to get home from Wichita, Kansas?!?"
I had a number of friends who were in the air that day. And all of them had to figure out how to get home from strange cities that were never their destination as air travel shut down in an unprecedented effort to control the skies.
Four groups of men on four different airplanes changed everthing that day. Folks of my generation grew up under the fear of global thermal nuclear war. When the Soviet Union fell, the world breathed a sigh of relief. We did it. We really did it. We managed to avoid blowing ourselves up.
And when it looked like the next generation would grow up without the dark cloud of doom hanging over their heads along comes Al Qaeda and fear is restored to our world.
If we weren't going to blow ourselves up, they'd do it for us.
Mere days after September 11th, I was pulled over for driving a rental car. I wasn't speeding or otherwise breaking the law. The police man stated that they wanted to know who was on the road with out-of-state plates.
In those weeks after the plane crashes, the world gave us their sympathy, their goodwill. In short order, our leaders squandered it landing us in a poorly conceived war in Iraq based on dubious ties to terrorism.
In six years we have offered up our blood won civil rights like milk money for a bully's "protection."
In the six years since that terrible day in September, I've not flown a single flight that I haven't wondered "which of the people around me are killers?"
My parents contemporaries had the question, "Where were you when you learned that JFK was shot?"
Now my generation has, "Where were you on September 11th?"
I ended that day the way I started that day, holding my wife and thanking God for our many blessings.
Where were you?
Posted by Aron Head
at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, 27 October 2007 11:39 PM CDT