It’s amazing how most weeks, we can’t recall what we wore two days earlier or what we had for dinner last night. However, if you ask anyone over the age of 10 where he or she was on Sept. 11, 2001, they can tell you in amazing detail where they were, what they were eating, what they had on, who they were with and exactly what they were doing, if anything.
Sunday will mark the 10-year anniversary of the terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. I know where I was when I found out. I was sitting on the couch in the living room, eating a bowl of cereal watching the Today Show. Katie Couric and Matt Lauer interrupted their broadcast to let a caller who had phoned in detail in an out-of-breath and unedited pace how a small commuter plane had just crashed into one of the Twin Towers in lower Manhattan. Within less than two minutes, though, everyone learned that it wasn’t a small commuter plane, but two 747 airliners, intentionally aimed into the upper floors of the Twin Towers.
That’s a moment when everyone’s lives changed, regardless of how old, or young they were on that fated day. Three hundred and thirty four firefighters and first responders lost their lives that day. Countless others lost fathers they would never know. Those kids are now nine or soon-tobe 10-year olds, forever changed by an incident that will affect them for the rest of their lives. They are just coming of ages where they feel that more than ever as their now blended families include beloved “dads”, actually stepfathers, who are now filling voids in those young hearts. Thousands of others lost their lives trapped in the towers, or simply, to the horror of others and me watching, jumped to their death in desperation. Some on that day had tried to soften the ugliness of those jumps saying they simply jumped into the arms of God with no other options and flames and smoke driving them to desperation.
Our own little panic soon set in as my dad and I both wondered out loud where my brother might be on that otherwise crisp fall day. He often made trips into Manhattan for business meetings. We hesitated to make the call to his then-pregnant wife not wanting to send her into a panic. It was a simple question, but the fear in my voice must have been apparent as I told her to turn on her TV, and more importantly, please answer my question…
‘ Where is my brother today?’ We were all relieved when she told us he was safely in his suburban office, NOT in downtown New York or on Long Island.
My brother did lose several friends and business associates that day, though, and knew what floors they had been on and how panicked they must have been. He had been on several of those same floors numerous times before.
The days that followed the attack were a blur of horrific images, courageous stories and heartbreaking loss, as America sat mesmerized and unable to turn away from the horror. Within minutes of the breaking news, TV sets were turned on in all kinds of businesses and computers were swarmed by anxious others who had no TV at their disposal. All tried to make sense and see just how bad the attack was. It was bad, beyond belief bad. Then word came of the Pennsylvania plane crash and the ensuing Pentagon crash that were all part of the overall terrorist plot. Heroes came to light, victims began to be named with their photos on the networks and at some point that day, we all tuned out and turned away, unable to hear one more gruesome detail.
It’s hard to believe that 10 years have passed since the attack. Monuments will be dedicated locally and nationally on Sunday. Everyone should stop what they are doing, take the time to think about what happened 10 years ago, and pray not just for everyone who lost their life trying to save countless others, but also that something like this never, ever happens again.