Saturday, September 10, 2011

Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning?...

Where were you on 9/11?

It seems like the question on everyone's mind. I've been asked that question a thousand times and go on to say I was a flight attendant...I had just come home on a red eye from San Francisco. I watched in horror as the entire day played out on T.V.

But I think we were all in the same "place" on 9/11. Every American...people all over the world...we were all in a state of shock. We were all transfixed. We were all standing together in mourning for the thousands of lost souls.

I was lucky that I had almost a week before I had to go back to work on the airplane. I sat in front of the TV day and night. I grasped onto any bit of news and I sobbed.

Watching those strong, brave firemen got me every time. Seeing their pain and their anguish as they tirelessly tried to rescue their fallen comrades and every civilian made me proud to be an American.

I watched in horror as they filmed people falling from the windows. Was it their choice to jump? Did they choose flying free and breathing air for the ten seconds that it would take for them to drop? Did they know a worse fate was ahead of them if they stayed in that building?
To me this didn't at all seem like a suicide. I see the "jumpers" as people ready to fall into the arms of God...and getting a head start. That's how I chose to feel better about what I saw. Seeing those falling angels made me proud to be a child of God. I knew that He caught them before they hit the ground.

As I watched New Yorkers, notoriously tough and brave, walking around in a daze with a look of despair on their faces...it made me so sad. I cried for them. I cried for their families who would have to figure out a way to comfort them. I cried for their futures - knowing that all of that air they ingested that day would surely come back to haunt them.
As I watched those firefighters go back day after day after day...breathing that air...and attacking what seemed to be an insurmountable task of cleaning up and restoring New York...I was proud to be an American.

That day will never make sense. So many unanswered questions. Why were we attacked in the first place? Why did it appear to be so easy to hijack those planes? What must have gone through the minds of those ON the plane - knowing they were about to fly into that building...or the Pentagon? What made those three towers crumble - especially the third? Why?!? We will likely never know the answers to these questions.

Someday, Gavin and Brian will ask about September 11, 2001. It will likely be a story in their history books. I don't know what I will tell them...mostly because I don't understand much of it myself. But I do know I will tell them this...

Every day we can wake up and decide to be afraid. But if we do, we miss out on the joy and the happiness and the beauty of this life. There is always a chance that something bad could happen...but there's a better chance of a lot of great things happening. And sometimes it takes something bad to show us all something good...
...like that clear, beautiful day in September, 2001. We ALL became Americans.

So where were we, you ask? We were shoulder to shoulder...joining hands...on our knees...holding every lost soul in our hearts. And we all came together in a way that we never had.


6 comments:

  1. Yes, Kate, very well said. I know one of the Search & Rescue teams from here in Jersey and both Sarah and her dog, Anna, got sick when they returned home. Sadly, Anna succumbed to her illness but Sarah continues to be a first responder. GOD BLESS THEM ALL.

    Barb

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  2. My rememberence includes the birth of my two nieces. In the shock and fear I experienced at work, I also was lucky enough to get to learn, quite early, that even though there is tradgedy, there is hope in new life. I'm grateful they were born on that day. I guess it figures my daughter was born on Dec. 7th. I am grateful for my country and the He helped me through my fear though prayer and family.

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  3. Wow Kate! What a beautifully written piece.

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  4. Well said. I remember every single moment of that day, 12 years ago. I woke up to the news that a friend had gone into labor and anxiously awaited updates on her progress. I was a sophomore at Cleveland State University in downtown Cleveland, and drove myself to my 8 a.m. Child Psychology lecture. It was a 90 minute lecture, so by the time class was over, the tragedies had already occurred. I called my best friend, Denise, on the phone in between classes, per usual, and she informed me of the horrors that were unfolding. I remember a friend was standing next to me as she told me, and I relayed the information to him as Denise was updating me over the phone. I hung up, walked in a daze to my nutrition class, and didn't hear a single word the professor said. A knock on the class door, a whispered message into the instructors ear, and just like that we were informed that class was cancelled, campus was closed, downtown was being evacuated. No one knew what had happened yet, except me. I gave a quick announcement of what I knew, which at that point was strictly the obvious - planes, twin towers, pentagon. No news of Pennsylvania, yet. I turned my cell phone back on and saw I had no less than 24 messages. I was able to call my voicemail to retrieve them, but I could not get a signal to call my frantic mother, brother, father, or friends back. A sea of people, massive amounts of people, all trying to get to our cars. People drove over curbs, sidewalks, tree lawns, all trying to exit parking lots and make our way to one of the many freeway entrances. It became a mass exodus out of the city. Bumper to bumper, nothing but break lights. Police triedu to direct traffic onto the freeway ramps, but their efforts were futile. It was mayhem. It was chaos. It was terrifying. I was listening to the radio, trying to get more information, and that is when I heard that Hopkins International Airport had received transmissions from the cockpit of flight 92 and I realized that I was mere MINUTES from Hopkins. I became terrified that there would be another plane crashing somewhere directly around me, not to mention that Hopkins was, quite literally, in my backyard which was my point of destination at that moment. A friend called me, somehow managing to break through the tied up cell phone lines, and was hysterical. We were so young, 18 and 19, and had no idea how to process what was occurring. When I finally broke through traffic and made it home, my parents met me in the driveway, crying. My father, a police officer, had his Beretta and his binoculars sitting on top of the entertainment center. Periodically he'd grab both and go outside to stare up at the sky, armed and ready to....I don't know, shoot a plane with a handgun? He wasn't thinking clearly, assuredly. Who was? My mother had her rosary in hand, the much calmer of the two, always. My grandfather came over and cried with my dad, two very emotional Italian men. I called my boss at the daycare I was employed at and told her I could not come in, I could not reign in my own emotions, I was scared to death. I spent a good portion of that morning and afternoon locked in my bedroom watching the television. I cried, and prayed, and cried. In the evening, I drove myself to my ex-boyfriends house (now my husband of 11 years) and barged into his bedroom where he was glued to his own TV set, and started crying. I asked him if we could be friends again, if just for today, as it seemed the world was near end in my 19-year-old mind. He smiled a crooked smile and welcomed me into his arms. I stayed there til late, and then drove myself home. I will never, ever forget. Never.

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  5. The images from that day are forever burned into my memory. I still remember the confusion as I watched something fly onto the tv screen and then into the other building. I distinctely remember saying out loud "what the h*** is that" and then the realization of what it was hit me as it hit that building. Horror, absolute horror. But I am like you Kate, I refuse to live my life in fear. Yes, of course it creeps in from time to time but I dont want to miss anything for fear of the unknown. If I am meant to go then I am meant to go and hiding in my house isnt going to change that. None of us know how long we have in this life so we better live it up while we can. Perhaps losing my three babies has contributed to my way of thinking, for years I wasnt afraid of death, now I worry only because of my rainbow baby, I dont want to leave him.

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