Today as we reflect back on that horrific date eight years ago, September 11, 2001, I must say that I can remember that day vividly. I had just dropped my daughter off for her first day of kindergarten and my oldest daughter had started her first year at University of Hawaii. As I drove home after dealing with a defiant five-year-old who didn’t want anything to do with kindergarten, my mind was filled with frustration yet excitement at the same time — a memorable time for any parent — elementary school and college.
When I arrived home, news blaring in the background as usual, I prepared to do what I do every morning, walk my dogs. However, my dog walking was curtailed by breaking news: “8:45 a.m. a jet crashes into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.” Along with this announcement followed photos of a gaping hole in the building, which was now on fire. By this time I became glued to the television with no idea about the horror that was about to unfold. While later we would discover that this plane was a hijacked passenger jet, American Airlines Flight 11 out of Boston, Massachusetts, the news continued and I actually saw the next dreadful incident that occurred at 9:03 a.m. when a second hijacked airliner, United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston, crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center and exploded. Both buildings were now on fire!
Fear in me emerged when the media reported that most terrifying message by President Bush at 9:30 a.m: "The country has suffered an apparent terrorist attack." I immediately tried to contact my eldest daughter directly and my youngest daughter’s school to make sure they were okay. I had this overwhelming longing to have my children at home with me — however, they were safe, with the youngest too young to grasp what was happening and my oldest in utter shock and dismay. My dogs became my source of comfort as I continued to follow the news.
The news coverage was unrelenting, reporting that at 9:43 a.m., American Airlines Flight 77 had crashed into the Pentagon, sending up a huge cloud of smoke and prompting immediate evacuations. News coverage was in full force in New York City and the entire world was observing more of this horrific day and what happened next was so shocking and surreal that I could hardly stand what I saw because at 10:05 a.m., the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed, plummeting into the streets below. Then at 10:10 a.m., United Airlines Flight 93, also hijacked, crashed in Somerset County, Pennsylvania and at 10:28 a.m., the World Trade Center's north tower collapsed from the top down as if it were being peeled apart, releasing a tremendous cloud of debris and smoke.
What I observed that day was so disturbing and heart-wrenching that I could hardly contain my emotions and to this day I can recall the chaos, the smoke, and the most haunting images of those people who jumped from the Twin Towers to escape the pain headed their way. While the death toll kept rising, I couldn’t stop my poignant outcry for all those involved. The aftermath was no less disturbing as I witnessed the ongoing recovery efforts from what was described as “ground zero” at the World Trade Center.
Out of the rubble surfaced stories of the heroism of our police officers, firefighters, those of flight 93 and many citizens; the goodness and decency of the media, our politicians and ordinary people abounded; and the resilience of America arose as we rebuilt lives, families, buildings, a city and a Nation.
What materialized out of the ruins of this horrifying day in our history other than fear was compassion and love, and Americans were united, albeit short lived, but no less profoundly. We should never forget September 11, 2001, the lives lost, the sacrifices made, the pain endured, and the tears being shed today. Let us all stay vigilant and follow the advice of Sandy Dahl, the wife of Flight 93 pilot Jason Dahl:
"If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate."Powered by Sidelines