There are some historic events etched in my memory that I don’t think I will ever forget. I watched the Challenger shuttle explode on live TV; I watched Princess Diana walk down the aisle for the royal wedding in her gigantic wedding gown and thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world… I also watched the new media cover her tragic death. I remember the Oklahoma bombing and the sadness of the Columbine shooting…
but I think the one that stands out the most is 9/11.
September 11, 2001… it was a Tuesday. I was a stay at home mom with a one-year-old and we woke up and went about our normal routine like any other morning. My mom had spent the night with us and she cuddled with my son on the couch while watching Sesame Street. It was the first day of Community Bible Study and I was excited to get out of the house to have some quality time with other women. I kissed my son goodbye and walked out of the house around 8:45 am.
The one thing I remember most about this day was how beautiful the sky was. It was a brilliant blue and not a cloud in the sky. The blue was so bright, that I walked out from under my carport and looked up at the sky admiring its beauty. I opened the door to my gold minivan, cranked it up, and the radio began playing a Veggie Tales soundtrack. I switched it over to the radio station, but no music was playing. Morning talk shows are standard, but this was not a light airy topic they were discussing over the airwaves. The serious tone caught me off guard, so I listened.
“A plane has crashed into the World Trade Center. We are not exactly sure what happened. Maybe the pilot was flying too low….”
Shocked, I immediately thought how terrible this was. I know the buildings are tall, but something must have happened in order for them to fly straight into a budling in NY City. I left the van running and went back inside to tell my mom.
“Hey, mom…. turn it to the news. A plane just flew into the World Trade Center. I’m not sure what’s happening but you might want to watch.”
As the news channel came into view, I remember seeing the black smoke billowing from the middle of the north tower. Mom and I both gasped. My son cried because we took away his favorite show, but I was able to distract him with toys so we could watch what was taking place. Channel after channel aired the chaos. I went outside and got back into my van and drove to my Bible study.
About a mile down the road the radio crew screamed out in shock, “The second tower has been hit. The plane flew directly into this building! They did not look like they were even trying to avoid it…Something else is happening here…I think New York may be under attack.”
Driving down the road, I pulled into the church parking lot and saw the faces of the other ladies walking in with me. We all knew what had happened – we were listening to the same thing on the radio. It was a feeling of unbelief. As I walked into the front door of the sanctuary no one was talking. It seemed a bit eerie, to be honest. After a bit of time, whispers began to filter through the room until everyone had arrived. The lady in charge stood up and said, “I think we need to stop and pray. We came here today for the first day of Community Bible Study, but I’m sure most of you know what’s taking place in New York. This calls for prayer. ”
That morning we didn’t have our first meeting as planned. Instead, this group of probably 50+ ladies gathered and prayed. We prayed for the victims’ families, we prayed for loved ones who needed to find someone in those buildings. We prayed for rescue workers… we prayed for the leaders of our nation.
Later that morning after I arrived back home, the news continued to get worse. I learned that a plane had plummeted into the Pentagon, another had crashed into a field in the middle of Pennsylvania, and there was possibly a plane headed to the White House (which we later discovered was the plane that crashed in PA). Terrorists was the buzzword on television and news officials announced that all planes had been grounded. Planes flew over our house every day. It was a common occurrence to look up and see a plane flying over our house… but not that day. It was very strange.
I remember sitting in my living room for days on end, watching the events of this horrific tragedy get worse and worse. We couldn’t look away from the television and it consumed our days. Speculation of what happened, people holding vigils right outside of ground zero and the wall of missing people photos continued to grow. I watched people on news cameras pleading for someone to find their loved ones. It was heartbreaking.
Even though it’s been 17 years, each time this date rolls around, a fresh dose of memories come rushing back. To the people who lost their lives that day…those who sacrificed unknowingly and the emergency personnel that went in because it was their job to help… I will never forget.