For the past week or so, numerous TV programs and newspaper articles have taken us back to that horrific day—September 11, 2001. Everyone has his or her personal memories of the event; where you were, what you were doing. Mine is of little difference from the majority of Americans on that fateful day nor is it particularly interesting, but I wanted to write about it anyway.
Harley, my black lab, and I had just turned from the driveway for our routine morning walk, when I heard a radio from somewhere, the volume on high. Turns out it was coming from the pickup of a bricklayer involved in new construction of a house across the street from mine. The announcer was saying something about a fire at the Pentagon.
Hmm, I think. Wonder what that’s about? Probably a faulty electrical system or sparks from a careless welder.
The dog and I covered the usual distance and as we returned from our loop, the radio voice, still blaring, said one of the towers of the World Trade Center had just collapsed.
What? What was that? Surely I didn’t hear it right. The World Trade Center? No way!
Inside, I click the TV and tune it to CNN. The screen is filled with an image of New York City enveloped in smoke and dust, gigantic dirty clouds billowing up and eastward, obscuring most of the buildings.
My mind seems unable to comprehend what my eyes are seeing.
That can’t be New York City. Can it? How can that be? This is the United States of America. We don’t lose entire cities. What the hell is going on?
The phone rang. My son asked, “Are you watching TV?”
I was, but it looked more like a horror movie or some video game than live television.
Soon, the replays began; the planes and the horrible collisions, the people jumping to their deaths to escape the flames, the gut wrenching collapse of the towers, Tom Brokaw explaining what I was seeing but didn’t want to believe.
When I began to hear of the panic that was sweeping across the country and the growing lines at gas stations, I called the Missus—who happened to be in Missouri at the time—to discuss the options. Knowing she could make the return trip to Tulsa on one tank of gas, she would fill up at the local pump before starting out. Running out of gas on the highway on this day could be a major problem.
Later, she called to say that the first station she tried did indeed have a long line of cars and people were already getting ugly, some jumping the line with shoving and shouting. A second station had only four cars in queue and she was able to fill the tank without incident.
Like most everyone else, I stayed glued to the TV for the next three days or so going from sad to angry to compassionate, unable to comprehend that someone or some group could do such a horrendous act.
Ten years later, I have the same feelings.