On this day, nine years ago I had just dropped my daughter off at high school and stopped by the grocery store to pick up a few things like milk, bread and eggs before leaving for an out of town flight. Someone at the store was talking to the check-out clerk about a plane crashing…in one ear, but lost in my mental preparation list of things to do before I left.
As I was putting the groceries away, I got a call from my husband. "I guess you're not going anywhere today", he stated. I had been up all night preparing to go film a scrapbooking segment for a cable show and was quite excited about going to represent the company that I was working for, Scrapbooking.com, and talking about something I was passionate about.
"What are you talking about?" I asked.
"Haven't you been watching the news?"
"I'm getting the boys ready to go to school and then I'm off to the airport." I certainly didn't have time before my flight to be watching the news.
"Well, you won't be going anywhere today. They've grounded all the planes."
You'd have to know my husband, but I thought he was joking. He never really liked it when I left town for business, so I thought he was pulling my leg. But I decided I'd better turn on the news to see what he was talking about and when I did, I was glued to the set. You see, my flight was scheduled to leave San Diego mid-morning…bound for New York City.
Originally, I was supposed to leave on September 10th, to film on the 11th, but they changed the schedule to accommodate another guest. I realize that none of the ill-fated flights left from San Diego, but I would have been there, in NYC, not far from Ground Zero. I wouldn't have been close enough to be in direct danger but it would have been a serious challenge to get around logistically, especially for someone not familiar with the city, and as it turned out, difficult to get home. My grown children that didn't live in San Diego called frantically to know where I was. Those phone calls were all that drew me away from the horrifying scenes on the television…it took a while for me to absorb the impact of what I was watching. How could something like this happen?
I didn't take Mike and Tom to school – I didn't want to be separated from them. I got word to Liz that I hadn't gotten on the plane and that I was okay…as okay as I could be after watching the news. She didn't understand the significance of the note the office passed to her until her teacher said that they were putting away their books and turning on the news. She remembers that day well.
It's hard to believe that it's been nine years since that day. But what is equally as vivid in my mind is what happened the following day. Our family has posted the Stars and Stripes out in front of our home for years. But the next day there was hardly a home in the neighborhood that didn't either fly a flag or hang a printed one in their windows. Flags were sold out all around the city. It was a sign of national solidarity, a way of showing support for the victims and their families. Sitcoms or nighttime shows were of little interest. I watched the news. I wanted to know what was happening. Stories of kindnesses shown, heroism and the drama of real people's lives was far more compelling and touching than anything manufactured. It was real life and real drama, real tears and real calamity. But as bad as the situation was, people seemed determined to pull together, not to shrink from the attack.
I can't begin to compare my sorrow with that of those that lost loved ones, but there were many tears shed and continue to come as that eventful day is remembered. Many lives were lost on September 11, 2001, many families forever changed by this act of terrorism. This isn't about the hatred that many in this world feel against this country. Perhaps it is because this nation is exceptional and blessed. Americans continue to be the most generous nation in the world. The strength of this nation lies in the resolve of good people that are willing to give and give generously of their time, their talents and even their lives in order to share what they have been blessed with and to preserve freedom. There are many that are willing to risk their own life to save another's and we have a word for that…HERO.
In 1 John 15:13 it reads:
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
I am grateful and proud to be an citizen of the United States of America. Today, as nine years ago, my thoughts and prayers are with those whose lives would be forever affected from the events of that day. We must never forget but we must persevere and move forward. God bless them and God bless America.