I couldn’t let this day pass without sharing my memories of that day eight years ago when four planes were hijacked by terrorists. It’s a day I remember so vividly and I usually do not have that kind of memory.
I had been married for less than a month and in Florida for less than two weeks. So, I did not yet have a job. Shortly after 9:00 a.m. Eastern time, after David left for work, I got on the Internet (we only had dial-up) to chat with a friend, Randy Phillips, on IRC. It was Randy who told me what had happened. Initially, I misunderstood. I thought two planes had crashed into each other. Then, for a brief moment, I thought he had to be lying. Once I knew what was going on, I disconnected from the Internet and called my mom to make sure she knew what was happening (she had not yet heard when I called). I also called my husband to see if he knew what had happened and he did.
We didn’t have cable TV, so I tried in vain to watch something on CNN’s website, but I couldn’t even get the site to open. When I couldn’t take just hearing about it on the radio, I drove to Kmart in Stuart and purchased a small antennae. I remember that everyone in the store was in the electronics department watching as the towers burned. After watching for awhile, I purchased the antennae and drove back home. After setting up the antennae, I could watch one blurry station. I believe it was ABC. I did nothing but watch that station for hours, days really.
In the afternoon, David sent a friend of his over to see if I wanted to go with her and her daughter to visit her mother-in-law. David worried I would be panicked. But for some reason I was very calm. I chose to stay home, because I didn’t really know them very well at that point and didn’t want to be with strangers.
When David came home, we did go to his friend’s house and we watched TV and I was able to learn more about what had happened. I didn’t contribute much to the conversation going on around me cause I was focused on the news.
That night, after a day of calm, as my husband and I lay in bed, I cried. I just bawled. Not for myself, but for all the lives lost that day. Even now, just thinking of all the lives lost, I want to cry when I think of that day.
On September 11, 2001, two planes went into the twin towers at the World Trade Center, one went into the Pentagon and one went down in a Pennsylvania field when the people on the airliner attempted to wrest control away from the hijackers. In total, 2,993 people died that day. That night, Pres. George W. Bush gave a speech to the nation and I want to share it with you, because I think these words should be remembered. And they say a lot about how we responded to the attack upon our nation.
Good evening. Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. The victims were in airplanes, or in their offices; secretaries, businessmen and women, military and federal workers; moms and dads, friends and neighbors. Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror.
The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing, have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness, and a quiet, unyielding anger. These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed; our country is strong.
A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.
America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining.
Today, our nation saw evil, the very worst of human nature. And we responded with the best of America — with the daring of our rescue workers, with the caring for strangers and neighbours who came to give blood and help in any way they could.
Immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government’s emergency response plans. Our military is powerful, and it’s prepared. Our emergency teams are working in New York City and Washington, D.C. to help with local rescue efforts.
Our first priority is to get help to those who have been injured, and to take every precaution to protect our citizens at home and around the world from further attacks.
The functions of our government continue without interruption. Federal agencies in Washington which had to be evacuated today are reopening for essential personnel tonight, and will be open for business tomorrow. Our financial institutions remain strong, and the American economy will be open for business, as well.
The search is underway for those who are behind these evil acts. I’ve directed the full resources of our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and to bring them to justice. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbour them.
I appreciate so very much the members of Congress who have joined me in strongly condemning these attacks. And on behalf of the American people, I thank the many world leaders who have called to offer their condolences and assistance.
America and our friends and allies join with all those who want peace and security in the world, and we stand together to win the war against terrorism. Tonight, I ask for your prayers for all those who grieve, for the children whose worlds have been shattered, for all whose sense of safety and security has been threatened. And I pray they will be comforted by a power greater than any of us, spoken through the ages in Psalm 23: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me.”
This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time. None of us will ever forget this day. Yet, we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world.
It is a day that I will never forget. It is a day that the world will not soon forget. I suspect you feel the same.
This song is by Alan Jackson and was written about that day. It is called “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning” and I wanted to share it with you to close this post.
(photo of World Trade Center courtesy of Free Stock Photos)