Friday, September 11, 2015
I remember that morning. It was a beautiful clear day. The sun was shining. It was warm. I was sitting at my desk when my boss came out of his office and said “We are going to war”. Everyone came out of their offices asking why and he told us that a plane crashed into one of the world trade center buildings or that a bomb had gone off. Those details are hazy.
I tried to get on the internet and bring up CNN, to see what I could find out. I turned on my radio. Then the plane flew into the second building. And I sat there, not knowing what was going on, thanking God that my family was safe and my heart wringing itself over the families in pain and all of those souls gone in an instant.
I remember trying to get in touch with someone and not being able to and hoping he hadn’t traveled to the city.
I remember the feeling of helplessness and just sitting there, refreshing my screen, waiting for news sites to update, catching horrific stories of people trapped, of people jumping, of dust and smoke filled streets making the city change in an instant from life to some other-world that shouldn’t have been there.
We worked the day as best we could. When I got home I held my daughter, only eleven at the time, and tried to water down the details for her. I didn’t want her to know evil, not yet, and I didn’t want her to be afraid of something she had no control over, like I was.
In the face of great tragedy “I love you” is said easier, hugs are abundant, and people are more attuned to others’ pain. In the days that followed tears flowed easy as news reports added more names to the list of those taken from us. Tears flowed as others were rescued, though not nearly enough. As dust cleared, a steel cross rose from the ashes as if by some miracle and brought some peace.
As more details became known, tears and sorrow turned to anger and the country rallied. It would not bring back the passengers and crew on that plane in Pennsylvania. It wouldn’t bring back the victims in New York City. It brought America together, united, at least for a while. People were nicer, smiling, taking the time to say hello, how are you?, and actually listening to the answer. Great tragedy brings people together before it tears them apart.