Friday, September 9, 2011

So Where Were You on 9/11?

On September 11, 2001, I was at a convenience store buying Pennsylvania lottery tickets. The store was located on Mickley Road in Whitehall, PA., just about a five-minute drive from my home at the time.

As I recall, I had just finished paying for my tickets and when I glanced up I spotted a TV showing a plane crashing into a skyscraper.

I said to the clerk, "What are you watching? That looks good!" thinking that I'd tune it in when I came back home. He told me what was happening.

What I'd seen was the first plane that crashed into the North Tower at the World Trade Center. I felt what could be best described as my heart dropping into some vast pit in my stomach. For a few minutes I stood there, not moving, actually unable to move.

At one point it occurred to me what I had said to the clerk, and I felt a sharp twinge of conscience, realizing that hundreds of people had died in a single instant the moment the first plane hit. They hadn't had a second to react.

Customers began to build up in the store, all watching in shock, and as much as I felt I should stay to see what would take place, I forced myself to leave, shaking and talking to myself on the way home. My Foxy Lady was with me. I know that she was aware that something had upset me as she tried to kiss me all the way home, and, I think for the only time in the 10 years we shared together, I gently brushed her away.

I was still working full time for AOL, and honestly, I don't recall working or doing anything but watching TV that day, though I must have. I do know that nothing could tear me away from the TV for the rest of that day, well into the night.

It wasn't fascination … it was disbelief in the fact that this could happen in America. I'd seen dozens of war films over the years, yet nothing compared to what I'd see on TV: people falling and jumping out of the towers to their deaths, looks of disbelief on the faces of ash-laden people running from the site, fire, smoke swirling everywhere. This was real, not a movie, and like it or not, I was a part of a piece of history. I relive that day every time I hear the term "9/11," or see TV clips from that day I find it difficult to watch. Yet I realize that I must … and that I must never forget what happened that day; how many lives were lost and how many more were changed forever.

This video is extremely graphic, but I watched it as a reminder of what once was: two towers reaching skyward; thousands of lives snuffed out, many without a chance to say, "Lord, forgive me for the life I lived, and please welcome me into your kingdom," or "Honey, daddy loves you. Please don't ever forget daddy," and thousands more goodbyes that were never uttered. There simply was no time.

To those who died in New York, D.C. and Shanksville, PA., that day: thank you. You are my heroes. To the survivors of those who are no longer with us, although we haven't met, you have my greatest respect and admiration, and my condolences as the anniversary of 9/11 nears.

We can only hope that something similar will not take place this weekend.

Please feel free to share a memory or two of that fateful day as a reply. This blog might still be around 100 years from today. Let those who come after us know what we felt. Let them know that we cared. We all have a story, don't we?

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