Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11 Remembered (revisted)

Twin Towers during a visit to my sister-in-law in New York City

(originally posted on the 10th anniversary of 9/11)

Saturday, September 08, 2001 dawned bright and cheerful. My husband and I headed to Washington, D.C. for the 2001 National Book Festival.

As we walked around the city we would occasionally stop to remark about the beauty of the day. The blue sky, fluffy clouds, and comfortable temperatures.

Heading over to the Library of Congress we encountered the feeling of good will and kinship from the festival attendees. People were chatting with strangers about books, authors, and sheer beauty of the library.

Several days later our world changed forever. The normal routine began with our high school daughter heading out to catch the bus. Not long after my husband and I went our separate ways after discussing dinner plans.

Soon after reaching my destination telephones began to ring on every desk. Answering mine I will never forget the words my husband uttered "Deb, two planes crashed into the Twin Towers!"

Immediately a feeling of shock and numbness so profound it almost incapacitated crept over my entire body. How do you even begin to process such events? Everyone in the office rushed to the television to watch images that would forever be etched in our minds.

Residing in a suburb of Baltimore the panic was starting to escalate. We are surrounded by military facilities and nuclear power plants. Rumors started circulating of other planes missing which caused great concern.

All at once my brain started going into overdrive. What had our children heard from teachers and friends? Were they on their way home? Could we reach my sister-in-law in New York to make sure she was safe? What did this mean for our son who was now stationed at the Marine Corps Base in San Diego? In the midst of this chaos planes went into a field in Pennsylvania and the Pentagon.

At this point I headed home to meet our daughter. Our local traffic usually light, was almost at a stand still. Everywhere I looked the faces of people were filled with horror and grief.

Once home I turned on the television and sat transfixed for the rest of the evening. The feelings of helplessness and loss so overwhelming I could hardly move a muscle. Seeing the emergency personnel selflessly run towards the inferno filled my heart with dread. Having many relatives who were firefighters I understood the dangers they would face. 

One particular memory remains from that night. Seeing all the American flags displayed on our neighborhood porches. There they stayed flapping in the breeze with lights reflecting the symbol of our country.

In the following weeks we bonded together in churches, backyards, and over dinner tables. Gaining comfort from daily contact with friends, loved ones, and sometimes perfect strangers.

The past ten years held moments of grief, sadness, love, fellowship, and healing. One of our dear friends lost her son during Iraqi Freedom. My sister-in-law has come to grips with the tragedy which occurred in her beloved city.

Several years ago my husband and I took a cross-country adventure. On yet another crystal blue day we visited the crash site of United Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Looking out over the field where the plane crashed you hear only silence. Somber crowds pay their respects while gazing upon items left by family members.

On this anniversary of our countries most tragic day, we remember all who made the ultimate sacrifice. We will always remember.

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