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Rated: E · Essay · Emotional · #2258317
Winner! The Writer's Cramp 9/12/21


Actual message received by airplanes

My phone rang at about 10 AM on September 11, 2001. It woke me. I worked at that time for a real estate agent in a suburb of Columbus, OH. That day I didn’t have to be at the office until about noon.

I answered to find on the other line my current husband. At the time, we had met just a few weeks before. I had taken him to the airport at 6 AM that morning. He was a VP of a large bank with a branch in Columbus. He and his team flew to Chicago weekly to work on internet problems.

“Norma, I’m okay. I’m fine.”

“Well, that is great. Glad you’re okay.”

“Really, I’m fine. I got here okay.”

“Wonderful. I’m glad. I hope you have a good stay.” I truly didn’t know what had happened.

“You don’t know what happened, do you.” He sounded serious. Even though I didn’t know this man well, I could tell from his voice something bad happened. “Turn on the TV.”

When I did turn on the television, I was stunned. I didn’t believe my eyes. But he was still on the phone.

“I’m okay. We’re not allowed to fly. All flights are canceled. We got the last rental car in Chicago. I’ll be home later.”

Still stunned and watching the news coverage, I tried to be loving and kind in my conversation. Somehow I guess I said I loved him and wished him well. “Drive safely,” is all I remember saying.

The entire day at work was focused on the attack, what we were doing when we found out, and what this meant for the country. It was hard to focus on anything else. CNN was on the TV set that somehow appeared in the office. Suddenly the buying and selling of homes seemed secondary. The perception was our entire country suddenly is under attack.

My life changed that day, as did everyone’s. I realized how badly I desired my man to be back beside me, to know he was safe again. Safe where I could see him, touch him. Tell him that I loved him and never wanted harm to come to him. The country I love realized that we were not safe from terror anymore. It was here, it was real, and now we had to find a way to handle it.

Twenty years and now we have a new terror in our country. And we’re trying to find a way to handle it. But this time, there is no big patriotic show of strength. Just hate and division. As sad as 9/11 was, I miss that unity my country showed.

W/C 444
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