Sunday, September 12, 2004

TOPIC: 9/11 Memories...
I clearly remember that morning when thousands of people lost their lives on American soil. The morning started as normal -- take the kids to school, have some breakfast with the guys and head off to work. While driving to Myrtle Beach to do a job, my wife called and said something was going on -- a plane had hit the World Trade Center. She couldn't get to a TV or listen to the radio, so she asked if I would find the news and call her back with details. Switching to a talk radio station, I heard that a "small commuter plane" had hit one tower of the WTC. As I arrived at the Myrtle Beach destination, everyone was glued to NBC's Today show. News helicopters were circling the first tower and the commentators were discussing what might have happened. As I saw the smoke rolling from the tower, I knew that a small commuter plane was not the source of the damage. Something bigger had hit the tower -- with a lot of force.
Just then, something streaked across the screen and the second tower exploded in a mass of glass, smoke and white paper. My first reaction was that I had seen two events; a news helicopter flying by and an explosion in the tower (possibly caused by the first crash). Then it hit me (and the NBC commentators) -- another plane had gone into the second tower. As I stood there watching the now burning buildings, my heart hurt and my eyes flooded with tears.
You see, *I* was supposed to be in NYC that morning -- flying out from LaGuaradia at around 9:00am. At the last minute, plans had changed and I didn't need to go to New York. But, in my heart and mind, it still hurt. I would have been in NYC, or lifting off from LaGuardia just as the two planes plunged into the World Trade Center -- and terrorism struck America. The tears were flowing -- both for what could have been and what was actually happening. People were dead, dying and desperately trying to get out. Seeing them jump from the building's windows in a thoughtless attempt to get away from the smoke and flames made me sick to my stomach. I felt as though I was going to vomit.
I called my wife and told her to be prepared to leave work, get the children and rush home. I didn't know what to tell her, but I was sure this was no accident. Something big was happening and we needed to be prepared for anything. I remember that I told her to pray -- pray for the folks in the WTC and those all aroujnd it.
Just then, the company I worked for paged me and told me to be prepared to leave as the bank (where I was doing the job) was closing in a few minutes. The Federal Reserve thought this might be a terrorist attack -- and there could be more. As I wished everyone well and prayed for them, I left Myrtle Beach and headed towards home. My wife and I talked several times that morning as I told her the gruesome details of what I saw and heard.
For the remainder of the day, we watched TV, switching news channels, into the night. That chilling morning has never left my memory. Sometimes we look back on history and defining moments in history with nostalgia, fondness even a sense of wishing we could have been there. Like millions of others, I witnessed this horrific act of terrorism on US soil. But I don't think I'll ever look back on it with nostalgic fondness.
Praise God for the men and women who risked their lives to save others that day. Thank God the tragedy was not worse -- as tens of thousands could have died that day. Thanks God we have a President who didn't sit back and wait until it happened again. *I* remember 9/11... and I hope YOU do, too.

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