I was driving to work on that September morning 10 years ago, as the first sketchy reports of some type of aircraft crash at the World Trade Center on a sunny morning. My first task that morning was attending the weekly meeting of the Board of Supervisors and I parked my car in the courthouse parking lot and walked in, not really knowing more that some of the basic information of what would become one of the most infamous days in American history.
A couple of the supervisors asked me if I’d heard anything on the news driving in I shared what I’d heard, which, was pretty fragmented at that time. When the meeting ended around noon, I returned to the newspaper office and got on the Internet and that’s when the enormity of the morning’s events began to register fully.
Through the rest of that day, the radio was pretty much a litany of what had happened, and the development of the various parts of the story that would become the story of 9/11. At one point, I remember hearing a story regarding the military’s fear for the safety of then-President Bush, as he flew across the nation, first from an elementary school to end up in Omaha for a time, while intelligence agencies tried to determine if it would be safe for him to return to the nation’s capital which he did in order to address a nation consumed with fear and uncertainty.
Those were days of pain, shock, anger, uncertainty, but as a nation and a people, we adapted. We continued to watch the news stories as rescuers continued to recover the remains of those who perished in the World Trade Centers, victims and rescuers alike. I remember seeing the news accounts of how all work at the site would stop when human remains were recovered, and thinking how poignant it must be for those at the site to bring someone to their family.
And then there were the families of those lost at the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon and in the field outside Shankstown, Pennsylvaniz, where the passengers fought back with the iconic phrase, “Let’s roll.”
September 11 will always be one of those dates in history that people will remember whether they were there or not, and many times, they’ll remember where they were or what they were doing when the event occurred.
For instance – We remember July 4, 1776. How about December 7, 1941? November 22, 1963? July 20, 1969?
I don’t remember July 4 or December 7 of those years, thank you, but I remember where I was on Nov. 22, 1963. I’d just walked home after Kindergarten class that morning and was somewhat puzzled why all that was on television was news no cartoons. It was only later that evening when our family gathered for supper that I began to understand our President had been shot and killed.
In the middle of the night on July 20, 1969, as an 11-year old, I sat enthralled in front of a black and white television at my grandparents’ home in Sheldon, watching man step on the moon and thinking nothing could be more memorable than that.
I went about my business day as normally as one could, going to a volleyball match that evening, but noting that the normal atmosphere of such an event was somewhat subdued even the kids playing in the event were aware of the enormity of the days’ events and perhaps even apprehensive as well. So now we’ve come to the 10-year anniversary of 9/11. There were remembrances at Ground Zero. There were reviews of the tragic events of the day on various television programs, and in many countries, there were vigils and moments of silence to honor those who lost their lives on that clear day in New York City.
In our country, there are numerous young people, born on 9/11/01, who celebrated their tenth birthdays on Sunday, and blew out candles and enjoyed the day with family and friends.
One can only hope that as they grow older, the significance of their birthday isn’t lost not only for the fact of their lives, but also for the remembrance of those lost on that day and significance of that day.
It is said that time heals old wounds but let us hope it never erases the memories, because we will always need to remember the history of our nation and our people.