September 11, 2001: A ten year reflection

This is a re-posting of my 9/11 ten year anniversary blog.

There are some things worth hoarding, and this commemorative 9/11 magazine is one that I’m glad I held onto. I tend to keep things, always thinking: “I’m going to need this one day.” I never gave thought that ten years following the most horrific act of terrorism the United States of America has faced, my reflections and related images would end up in a blog.(Did blogs even exist ten years ago?)

Then again, one decade ago, no one on planet earth would have ever thought the most powerful nation in the world would fall prey to such a strategic act of terror and man-made evil. I am still waiting for Ashton Kutcher to show up and say, “You’ve been punked.”

Unfortunately, the events of September 11, 2001 were not part of a scripted television drama. The skyline of New York City that had become as familiar as Lady Liberty raising her torch in the harbor would forever be changed as though God gave someone permission to “etch-a-sketch” them right out of the sky where they reigned as respectable, architectural structures that housed the countries most important. financial centers.

Ten years ago on this day, I had just completed a temporary work assignment at the FSCJ Martin Center. Like the the rest of the world, I went about my business of busy until my phone rang and I was emotionally instructed to turn on the television. One of the World Trade centers had been bombed (so we thought). Within seconds, I witnessed an airplane (yes, a Boeing 767 great big ‘ole giant airplane) crash into Tower II. It was surreal. In some ways I feel some sort of mixed fortune for actually turning the television with the same precision the plane and tower collided, but there is no fortune in the witness, the act, the experience, the horror, the memory, or the aftermath of 9/11. My mind forwarded-fast to attempt comprehending not HOW this could happen, buy WHY. Further, if the entire world was watching, why wasn’t there some aspect of military intelligence in place to stop it? (The indepth television coverage really baffled me).

I was a TWA Flight Attendant in 1996 when Flight 800 went down enroute to Paris from New York’s JFK airport. My roommate Eric Harkness perished and all I can remember thinking is, “How can human life just “poof” and vanish?”  My experience sent me straight to the reflection of training every flight attendant endures, but never thinks they will have to implement:

Instruct a panicked. load of passengers to “Stay Down” and a pilot echoing “Easy Victor” over a weakened speaker. Actually, there would be no message from the pilots as the cockpits were high jacked. Equally frightened was the community of business employees who looked out windows and saw a plane coming, or were on floors below and simply felt the Towers collapse like a malfunctioned Lego.

It was a bad, sad, day for America. The images were haunting as flames emitted from the building but for me, the most daunting images that continue to rest in my long-term memory like the worst nightmare I endured as a child are the painful photos of human beings jumping from 90 floors high like birds clothed in suits and ties to save themselves from a burning death. No one should ever have to endure such a wicked choice, and I’m not sure if they considered the consequences prior to jumping; perhaps they were split second decisions and/or they thought there was a 50/50 chance they’d live if they jumped, but if they burned?

I can’t imagine their last moments, the fear, the anxiety, the phone calls to loved ones that have been recorded and saved for perpetuity, and the mass, posted photos that desperately blanketed the city of New York like a city-wide motif that made the efforts of missing children on milk cartons appear almost irrelevant.

There was a second disturbing image that really drove home the reality of how this cowardly act transcended city blocks and miles beyond the actual World Trade Center site. Those images were the legions of EMT’s, police, fire fighters called to the scene and the multitude of city dwellers and innocent bystanders blanketed with smoke: running, dazed, and confused like a set of movie extras doused with ash for special effects.Tragedy is no respecter of persons, so I can only wonder how the rest of New York fared with respect to the everyday murders, fires, burglaries, and simple acts of misdemeanors that plague a city  with five sprawling boroughs. How could there have ever been enough help for everyone when the number at ground zero was so severe?

Sooner than later and shorter than longer than he deserves on this blog post, it was revealed that Osama Bin Laden, forgive me, the LATE Osama Bin Laden was the “Terrorist Potentate.” I can’t help but admit that the entire synchronized crisis was a straight-up “We got you America” move that embarrassed, angered, and questioned the security of U.S. air space and would send our entire nation into airport paranoia for infamy.

Heroes emerged and so did multiple, live bodies lodged and crushed beneath pillars of steel and mountains of bricks, but enough bodies would never be recovered. More than 3,000 human beings of all ethnic backgrounds, class levels, and walks of life took their last gift of breath on this day for one of the world’s most unnecessary reasons: evil.  In the midst of the latter, there was good. America was united in a way that remains admirable. I pray it will never take another tragedy as monumental and profound as 9/11 to teach us that fragility and vulnerability are subject to affect even the powerful and strong.

Ten years have passed and I’ve already seen the previews of one, too many television programs commemorating the effects of 9/11. For this reason, I am abstaining from television on Sunday, September 11, 2011; however, I hope every NFL game played on this day begins with a moment of silence as an ultimate show of respect.

I don’t want to relive any aspect of the terrorism or hear countless reflect by terror experts. The country is on high, security alert for a suspected terrorism attack that could quite easily be worse than its predecessor; however, if we have learned anything about the nature of terrorism in ten years, we should clearly know without question that our adversarial opponents would never strike when we’re expecting which is exactly how 9/11 occurred. While we are indeed the strongest, most powerful (and in debt) nation in the world, we’ve been given a strong dose of humility.

I often wonder why God would allow such heinous and brutal things to happen to innocent people. The results of any death or tragedy are meant to give voice and action to those of us who are living and have survived, but it clearly took something larger-than-life to get our attention and stay alert. We are strong and remain powerful despite a tragedy one decade ago that shook our core, and at the same time strengthened our resolve. We are a country blessed and may God bless the families, relatives, and loved ones of all of those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. We continue to mourn your loss, and they will never be forgotten.

Penny Dickerson 2011


33 comments on “September 11, 2001: A ten year reflection

  1. Thank you for your reflection and reminders of that day with your appropriate images. I admire your technical abilities. God bless you and your work.


  2. Peace and blessings! Truly appreciated the artice regarding 9/11. As an Army Soldier, I’m reminded daily of America’s vunerability; reading it is sobering indeed. It does not feel as if it’s been 10 years, but to the immediatly afffected Amercians that lost loved ones – it is as if it was yesterday. Thank you for your insight and ability to articulate what so many others are not! Linda


  3. Glad I discovered your blog.


  4. I am so fortunate to be here today because I know that a lot of people have lost their lives in this tragedy. I am truely sorry for all the lives that were taken away from families and I pray that things will get better.


  5. Reading A ten year reflection made me realize the here and now moments on how 9/11 effected and continues to effect people. Even though it has been a decade, the struggle still exists. The wording and pictures are formatted so real, where as if you didnt know how to read the pictures alone tell the story. May God continue to bless you on your gift of giving.


  6. Reading A 10 year reflection has made me realize how 911 effected and still be effects peoples lives today. I enjoyed the reading.The words and pictures are formatted in such a unique way that even a person that cannot read can understand your writing by pictures alone .May you continue to give the gift of giving.


  7. Did you know the youngest passenger on the hijacked jets was Christine Hanson on United Airlines Flight 175? She was 2 and on her first trip to Disneyland. I wonder if god loves us, why would he allow this to happen. In memory of 9/11 god bless the families who lost their loved ones. Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th. Rest In Peace the victims of 9/11.


    • Awesome fact Stephanie! I’ve never heard that information regarding two-year old Christine Hanson. Yes, God loves us despite inexplicable tragedies. I am a firm believer that death is for the living which is why the events of September 11th should be reflected upon often and never forgotten. Thank you for your comment.


  8. The other night I was at a friends house watching a 9/11 doctumentry on flight #175. They had interviews from the families who were affected by the events that went on on that day. As I watched I was such in ahh because it was alot I didnt know. Like how many terriorist their were, how they got through security,and what they used to attack the pilots. They also did interviews on the victims families and the last words from their love ones. And now 11 years later it still affects us; I pray that we will wake up as a nation, keep God first ,and keep all the victims , surviors and their families always in our thoughts and prayers.


  9. September 11 has left a big mark on this nation. Many innocent people’s lives were lost in this tragic event. My condolences goes out to those families who lost a loved one. Even though I was not aware of this event when it happened because of my age, my eyes open each year when it is remebered .In fact, reading this ten year reflection has been one of those ways and it makes me realize how thank I and all of us should be that we are still alive.


    • Yeisa your words are poignant and a testament that even the “nine one one young” in 2001 have a voice in the affects of this historic terrorist act. You are a champion for attempting to edit yourself via a separate comment. I know you meant to type: “how thankful all of us should be…”.


  10. The loss of life is on a large level is always hard to stomach. It seemed like me and my friends were watching a movie instead of a news channel that day. I have never experienced a day in my life where everywhere I went people were sad and solemn. Most avoided eye contact as they were all trying to deal with the events that unfolded that day. It made me angry and bitter to see how everyone around me struggled to go about their daily lives.


  11. I enjoyed reading a personal account from someone who can actually remember the tragic events of this day. I was in the 2nd grade when these events took place and i was told to feel bad for an event i did not understnd. Now that i am old enough to understand this tragedy, i always seem to think back on the actual day and wish i had known what really went on. Today is actually my neice’s birthday and I feel bad for her knowing that the day she was born is one of America’s gloomiest days.


  12. Thanks for finally writing about >September 11, 2001: A ten year reflection | Penny Dickerson Writes <Liked it!


    • A 12 year old scar that was etched on everyone’s heart. A painful memory inside everyone’s mind. Nightmares that people do not want to relived. The event that shook our souls. 9/11, how horrific you are? Can you keep the bad things and let us dwell on the good ones. let us embrace the facts and remember our unsang heroes. pray for those who lost their love ones, those who still suffer and America. Rejoice that we live in a great nation. love and peace!!! God bless us all.


      • Thank you John. Indeed it was horrific. LOVE your first line. We are America strong. God bless you and America. Professor D.


      • September 11th is a day that saddens most Americans. Many untold stories of triumph as well as tragedy. We must look forward and always keep the heroic memory of all service men and women as well as the people who lost their lives while just trying to earn a living. Today should be a day of reflection and prayer. God bless America.


  13. Very nice write-up. I certainly love this website.

    Stick with it!


  14. I was not affected by the tragedy of 9/11 when it was happening due to my age; however, as I have seen and understood more of this horrific day, the events of that day twist, stab, and rip at something so deep inside of me that I didn’t even know it was there. Upon reading this, I wondered how it was possible for you to even come close to capturing that tragedy in words. I am glad to hear that the people directly affected by those attacks are being respected properly.


    • Thank you David. Despite your age, you have proven that the terrorist acts are perpetually symbolic of an era that all citizens can and do mourn. May you be part of the generation that never experiences a threat to Homeland Security.


  15. I was young myself at the time of 9/11. Only the tender age of twelve, I was confused at first about what actually had happened. As I’ve grown into a woman over the last twelve years, I do understand now. It is truly a bitter sweet situation. Remembering every year how this tragedy unites us as a strong nation and country. At the same time feeling so sad for the families of the victims, who are reminded of their loved ones who are no longer here.


    • Sade,

      I appreciate your honest response. As I sit in worship service this morning, I am reminded thst compsssion at any sge is spiritually symbolic and honored by God. Thank you for acknowledging those family and friends who perished on 9/11. Professor D.


  16. During this time I was deployed in a naval vessel and the crew and I had no idea that something so horrific happened in our homeland. As I watch the second plane hit the south tower, all I thought about it was how is my family going to survived if this is a full attack. Many, in our ship, felt the same way I did, but at the same time we all wanted vengeance for the attacks. Today I see our nation straggle economically, politically and socially and I wonder, did the master mind of the attacks planed it this way?


  17. This article defiantly made me think back on that day and it felt like it was just yesterday. As I was walking into my geography class that morning September 11, the teacher turns on the tv and thats when we all saw the second plane hit tower II. The news later on that day as they were showing clip backs of when the towers were hit they edit the part when people were jumping off. This day our country went through something so sad and scary, but like you said this just made us stronger and we became one nation as a whole. Everything that happens in this world is for a reason no matter if its good or bad, and we just have to keep moving and still remember those who are longer around. Great blog.


  18. I enjoyed reading your reflections about 9/11. This day will never be forgotten. I always reflect back on all the families that were left behind. I often wonder how they’re coping and how have their daily lives been changed. I know it’s especially hard during the anniversary each year. I wonder do Bin Laden death bring about a peace or closure with some of the families. I pray daily for our world in hopes that mankind will one day want peace and stop spreading hatred.


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