I can tell you that it was bright, sunny and cool that autumn day. My wife had left early to meet a friend to go to the Kentucky art show in Alabama and would be gone for the day. I took the day off from work, a fifty mile commute to the heart of Atlanta. I was happy to have the day off and be at home and to putter and to spend quality time with the one year old. We were doing our little morning routines… Eating cereal. I had the TV on for background and noise to see what was going on the world. It was a nice ordinary day until… We began to get the reports of the attack. Of course it was live feeds and we got to watch in real time as our country was attacked. I have had few other traumas in my life that so shook me. Helpless I watched. Crying at the inability to do anything to help. Praying for those injured, trapped, burning, calling out, hanging from windows, jumping, and the heroes trying to get in there to help.
You could hear the panic in the voices on television you could hear the horror and speculation about what had happened and at 1st they wouldn’t even admit that this was terrorism or even that it was an airplane. At first the report was just simply a fire and smoke. Incredible denial about what was happening from everyone reporting and watching. An unwillingness to believe it could happen at home.
But clearer reports came. A sickening awful truth of the destruction in the tower. And then it happened again.
Because Atlanta carried the title of World’s Busiest Airport at the time, and because my wife and her friend were traveling by car in that area, I got on the phone. I was a bit concerned and wanted to know where they were and what was going on with them. Vehicle gridlock kept them from proceeding on their trip. Frustrated, they got off of the interstate highway and entered a mall to watch in a Sears on a bank of televisions with so many others, stunned. They didn’t know if they would keep going toward Alabama. I asked to come home the long way back. I was home with the kid on my hip and I just needed us all back together safe. I was extremely worried about the situation because I got to thinking about what targets might be in Atlanta. We’ve got a nuclear reactor at Midtown and CDC. Next came the ground stop for all aircraft and then more reports of planes being hijacked rolled in. More stories of the terrified folks in the towers came. I talked to my colleagues at work and I asked him had they seen what was going on and what Atlanta was advising and what the company would do.
They decided that it would be prudent for them to leave Midtown as quickly as possible …. I think most people are familiar with the stories of Flight 93, the story the Pentagon attack, and the towers falling in the awful dust that hung everywhere. The awful knowledge that there were thousands of people who died who cried out all it at one time, that the loss of life was hard to absorb, shocking the whole nation. It shocked us into quiet. But we weren’t divided by race or creed or ethnicity or age or skin color that day. … We came together as Americans.
The thing that I guess I remember the most about the aftermath was just how quiet it got. The ground stop was at that time unprecedented and everyone having fled, in the cities everything was so still… and this went on for days. And it seemed like nothing would be normal ever again.
But slowly the wheels began to turn, things got back to normal and we swore we’d never forget.
I’m afraid that we didn’t make good on that oath. We continued to allow ourselves to be cowed by political correctness and bad policy and equality for the sake of equality sake instead of analyzing whether or not we wanted poison in our midst, whether we were willing to compromise our American exceptionalism for a one-world style melting pot where somehow we thought our freedoms & ideals would prevail… that somehow our American way would win… But politics got in the way. And we put our trust in those willing to sell us to the highest bidder.
We are outnumbered.
We are the minority.
Freedom is rare and precious.
America is the last best hope for the world.
I see many parallels then and now. Americans are traumatized and want leadership. We have no unity as we did when the towers fell and we had a common enemy. And we have no consensus on what happened, who is to blame, and what to do next.