The day my life stood still! Entry for Cissy's contest
I watched my screen in disbelief as reports of a jetliner flying into one of the World Trade Center, buildings. That first hit was caught on film and replayed, then suddenly, when the world stood shocked for what seemed like some surreal disaster movie, another jet hits its twin building. At this point, the jaws of newscasters dropped in disbelief as they scrambled to find out anything, some kind of comforting information to report — but there was to be none to deliver.
As family and friends were calling to be sure what they saw was real, and we agreed it was really happening, another report of a plane gone down in a field in Pennsylvania, and yet another hit, this time at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
The children at school, being quite young at the time, were kept from the disturbing news. The teachers wanted their parents to tell them and to comfort them at the end of the school day, when they could feel safer at home. Fighter jets could be heard overhead, and in-between, an eerie silence in the air, as all commercial flights were halted.
Those were the moments of my day, before and after the trip to school. Afterwards, it was a remarkably different state of mind and being. There was a lingering fear that more attacks would follow, more violence upon innocents, more death and destruction of the kind never to be forgotten. My heart broke as I heard the casualty count rising from the morning's terrorists attacks upon our soil. My husband, who worked at a communications industry, was called back at midnight, to keep an overnight vigil and protect the systems' connections as well as guarding the site from attempted looters, horrible thugs within society. Those who are cowards, and do their deeds when places are dark, closed, and no one paying attention because a disaster has everyone's eyes glued to their television sets for more updates.
I think my eyes froze, or, more like my mind did a freeze-frame of each scene unfolding in slow motion; each person running through the streets, the poor souls with no place left to go but down the hundred stories from the broken windows, with the flames creeping up on them. It couldn't be real, it just couldn't be ... but it was. It wasn't a dream, a nightmare, or an out of body experience, it was happening to citizens of our country and other countries who happened to be in those buildings at that time, or in those planes on a one-way trip — a deadly flight.
I tried to imagine the fright of those passengers seeing that building coming toward them, or the ones who found that they were hijacked and riding a plane meant to do further destruction to the Capitol or the White House. Those brave souls who decided to not go down without a fight. "Let's roll!" Yes, Todd Beamer, words we'll never forget.
The images of those brave first responders, running into the burning buildings, while so many folks were running away, in an attempt to save lives. Surrounded by ash and smoke, some were doomed never to return. They, along with thousands, would be entombed within the crumbled ruins.
We lived relatively close to The Westover Air Force Reserve Base, as the crow flies. A couple days after the initial attack, our house shook from the military fighter jets flying low, above our home. My young son broke into tears, because he thought more planes were going to keep attacking us. I took his hand and walked him out to the porch. I told him to look up to the sky as another fighter jet flew over us close enough to see the pilot. I said, "Those are the good guys. So long as they are in the air, we are safe from the bad guys taking planes and trying to hurt us." I told him to wave and give them a salute. Let them know how much we appreciate them being here. He felt much better after that. Yet, I knew we'd never, ever, feel as safe as we did on the day of September 10, 2001.
The days passed by, the death toll rose, we the people cried along with their families. We still feel the pain each September 11. Seventeen years gone, but it seems like yesterday, the images remain. Forever they are chiseled within our hearts. You dear, precious souls, you will always be remembered.
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