Sunday, September 11, 2011

My 9/11 story

Today is the 10th year of remembering 9/11. I hesitate at calling it an anniversary as that word is always associated with something good. What happened 10 years ago was not good. Everyone has their story about what they were doing when it happened so I thought it was a good time to write down my story.

   It was a sunny day and I was looking forward to getting to the studio. I was a student at Kent State University, Stark Branch getting ready to attend the main campus in Jan. and had paintings to have ready for review.
   In my usual paint clothes, dragging wet paintings and a backpack, I came in the back door to the building as it was closer to the studio I had a corner of. Just as I set my stuff down, I overheard someone saying that an airplane had just hit one of the twin towers in NY. Wow, that is horrible! What was a plane doing flying so low? Just as I was about to start setting up, another student came running into the room to tell us a plane just hit the Pentagon and they think we are being attacked.
    There is a TV in the main lobby and we all rushed to see what was going on. The lobby was full of people from all over the Fine Arts building just standing and watching the small TV up in the corner. I took a spot and watched. It was then I saw the second plane hit the second tower live.
   The feeling was numbing. A great sadness draped over me like a blanket. My country is being attacked! It was surreal. It took a minute before it sunk in for all of us.
   Suddenly, the crowd scrambled for phones. I had a cell phone and ran outside. My hands were shaking while I tried to light a cigarette and dig my phone out of my pocket. My mind was racing.
My brother, John, was in New York somewhere and I needed to find out if he was OK. Call Mom.
When I got through and she picked up the phone, I started to cry. "Turn on the TV and sit down Mom."
"Is this a joke?" she said. "No, Mom. You need to turn on the TV and SIT down. We are being attacked." It seemed to take forever before I heard her understand what she was watching and started to cry.
   It hurt to hear the pain that came out of my Mom. It was the lose of security. It was the fear of not knowing where John was. It was all the horror stories of war we watched from other places and times all become real. It was outrage that anyone dare attack us in our own back yard.
   I hated having to hang up but there were other friends and family to call. Each one was just as hard to hear.
Everyone around me was doing and feeling the same thing. I was older than most of the students and had heard the stories of past wars from the mouths of those who had survived them. It was so much to take in that I had to find a quiet place to process it all. 
   I ran back to the studio where others were gathering up their stuff to leave.  I am sure the school was closed that day but I did not stick around to find out.
   Sitting in my truck, fumbling with my keys, I sat and sobbed. The reality of what was going on sunk in. My country was under attack! My homeland was no longer secure. The security of my life so far was stripped away. I felt like a small child. Scare, alone, and unsure of what would happen next.
What happened next was an anger like no other. A helpless, fearful, painful anger that lasted a long time. It moved me to get on the road and home.
   I called friends and family to make sure they knew what had happened and waited for my brother to call. He was OK but stuck in NY for a while.  As 82nd Airborne he knew death and destruction. He was crying too.

Today is for remembering those who lost their lives, those who came to the rescue, and those left behind.
While this act was historical, terrorism is not so much the act but the fear and insecurity that act inspires. We now know that the security some of us were privileged to know is gone. Our children and grandchildren will never know it. They will know war. They will know those who lost their lives fighting the war that has lasted these 10 years and why.

Our lives as Americans were forever changed.

No comments:

Post a Comment