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