Friday, September 11, 2009
My Reflections On 9/11
My Reflections On 9/11
I'm sure all of you here in the United States and around the world can remember where you were when you heard the news of 9/11. Jack and I had just made a quick early morning trip to the grocery to get a gallon of milk for our breakfast cereal. We came in the door and Jack put the milk on the kitchen counter while I clicked on the TV and immediately heard Katie Couric announce around 8:50 A.M. that it was reported that a small plane had flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York. I watched for about 10 minutes and then decided to let the construction workers who were working on the unfinished house next door know what was happening because they may not have heard the news via radio or TV. So I ran next door and told the workers and when I was walking back to our yard Jack came running outside the house screaming that the South Tower had just been hit by a very large commercial plane and he had seen it live on TV! I couldn't believe it. It meant that the U.S. was under attack by someone or some country so I ran back to tell the construction workers this latest news. The supervisor and the Hispanic workers were obviously surprised and curious for more info so I invited all of them into our house to watch the news on our big screen TV. I remember that all these Hispanic workers could hardly speak a word of English to Jack and I but they were upset and realized how serious this was and when I said we are under attack they all exclaimed "Si, Si."
The events unfolded so very quickly after the two towers were attacked within fifteen minutes of each other. Soon the South Tower just imploded and you knew that most people inside the building could not have gotten out in time. To me the scariest moment is when they announced that the Pentagon had been hit by a hijacked plane. At that point I had to sit down because I thought I was going to faint. The Pentagon was just 45 miles from our house and our oldest daughter lived and worked right in Arlington. At that point everything became surreal: the announcements that four planes had been hijacked, that one plane intended for D.C. had apparently gone down near Shankesville, PA.
The rest of that day and that evening was a TV watching blur. Like most parents we connected with our two daughters. Our younger daughter was at JMU and we told her that she should remain there. Our older daughter called from work in Arlington to say that she didn't want to go back to her apartment yet so she was coming out to our house to spend the night. I think she may have felt sheepish about being scared to return to her apartment but she soon learned that our one neighbor's son who was in his late twenties didn't want to be alone either so he came out to his parents' home. In the following days The Washington Post was filled with details of the attacks. I have kept these newspapers for my grandchildren to read.
Then on Thursday with trepidation we headed to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with our older daughter on a pre arranged weekend getaway trip. President Bush had said that we needed to get on with our reguler lives and not let these terrorists psychologically intimidate us. So we headed to the beltway that took us around D.C. to Maryland and then took interstate 95 north to Philly. All along these routes we saw so many flags flying in houseyards, commercial buildings and being draped over the interstate overpasses that we were overwhelmed with emotion. When we got to Philly we checked into our downtown motel which was right next door to the oldest Jewish synagogue in Philly. Talk about tight security there! There was talk that Middle East terrorists might want to target this symbolic Jewish synagogue. We stayed at the motel next door but with fear in our hearts for our safety. And everywhere we went in Philly we saw more flags and signs of patriotic support. But what I remember most is what a restaurant waiter told us one evening. He said that he lived in a part of Philly that has a very large Middle Eastern population and on the day 9/11 occurred there were Muslims dancing with joy in the streets. I was so upset at hearing this news that when we returned home I called the FBI's suspicious terrorists hotline to report what I had heard from this waiter in Philly. I don't know if the FBI investigated this incident or not. I hope so.