Friday, September 11, 2009

Where were you?

By Lonnie Cruse

We all remember where we were eight years ago today, don't we? I was at home, sitting on the couch, watching television. Hubby was gone for the day, probably playing golf. I saw the report of the first plane hitting the tower. What a sad accident. Then the second plane hit the other tower and I realized it was no accident. I spent most of the rest of the day watching the news. Praying. And I found it interesting that the word "prayer" suddenly became politically correct to use on the news channels.

In the days that followed and more news came out about the reasons behind the attacks, writers were talking about it in various online groups. Some of us wrote our way through it, dealing with the horror and fear that way, others were totally unable to write, frozen by all that happened.

The attacks changed the landscape of downtown New York City forever and the way we all looked at our world, forever. We were no longer as safe, anywhere. I don't think I"ll ever forget the sight of the sky over our rural area . . . totally empty of airplanes all the next day.

I grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada, near Hoover/Boulder Dam, which was always considered to be a prime target when Russia was our country to fear. The A-bomb tests weren't much help either, for making area residents feel "safe." In elementary school, in the 1950's we had A-bomb drills where we had to duck under our seats (not much protection against a powerful bomb, but we bought into it) and we wore dog tags, like all American soldiers wear, so we could be identified in case of a stray A-bomb. It wasn't until we were grown that we learned we were virtually the only kids in America who wore them. As I said, that was the fifties. By 2001 Russia no longer seemed to be a threat, and most of us believed our country and its citizens were invincible. Meaning no country would dare attack us on our own soil. Now we know different.

Events like the assassination of a President, a bombing, or an attack on large buildings full of innocent citizens changes our everyday lives in many ways. If perchance it hasn't changed yours, then you don't watch much television and/or you haven't been through an airport lately. Whether or not we like those changes, we adapt. We have to. September 11, 2001 made huge changes in our daily lives or at least our perceptions of them. We don't take a lot of things for granted any more. And a lot of our troops are involved in a war that didn't exist then, at least not like it exists now. Don't we all know someone fighting over there? Several someones? Those are scary things.

Today is a good time to reflect . . . on how things were before September 11, 2001, on how they are now, but most of all, a time to reflect on those innocent victims who lost their lives that day. And on how the rest of us are surviving/coping.

May your days be blessed with family, friends, and little fear. May you never see another day so horrific that you'll always remember where you were and what you were doing at that moment.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Just thinking of that day gives me chills. Let's hope we don't ever experience something like that again. I had a 2 week old baby and wondered what kind of world I'd brought her into.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Joyce said...

I was a secretary for a police department at the time. One of my co-workers wives called and said to turn on the TV. We gathered in the squad room and watched the first tower burn, thinking it was a tragic accident. Then the second plane hit.

Then when the plane went down in Shanksville, only 90 miles away, we went into emergency mode. If a plane went down in rural Somerset County, one could crash anywhere. We had no idea at the time of the heroic acts of the passengers.

Meredith Cole said...

That day is definitely seared into my brain, Lonnie.
I was just across the river in Brooklyn from the towers that morning. My husband and I went up on the Williamsburg Bridge and saw both towers on fire. Manhattan refugees kept streaming across the bridge looking shell-shocked. And we were still on the bridge when the first tower came down. I'll never forget the cries of horror and the sobbing from the watching crowd. Soon after, the police cleared the bridge, and we went stumbled home. We had no phone service, no television, and all we could get was the BBC on the radio. The rest of world was much more informed about what was going on then New Yorkers were that day. All we knew was that New York would never be the same.

Sandra Parshall said...

We had the Today Show on earlier that morning but had turned it off. I got into the car to go to the library and heard on the radio that a plane had crashed into the Pentagon. (We live in Northern VA, in the DC metro area.)I told my husband, who had come out in the yard to mow the lawn, and we went back inside and turned on the TV. Then we learned that the plane crash at the Pentagon, horrifying in itself, was only part of what had happened.

I felt stunned for days -- weeks -- afterward. Every night we heard the fighter jets overhead, circling the DC area. We worried about being two miles from the CIA headquarters. I cried for the dead and their families and my country. I felt sick every time I rode past the Pentagon, where a gaping hole was gradually replaced by new construction that is still visibly newer than the rest of the building.

Yet I was able to write. When I sat down at the computer I could sink into my fictional world and put the real one out of my mind.

We still have, and always will have, a lot more security at public buildings in DC and the surrounding counties. I'm all for it -- even more so after a man got into the Holocaust Museum with a gun and opened fire on the guards. I love the Washington area, but I feel like we're living in the middle of a great big target.

Lonnie Cruse said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone.

Joyce said...

Sandy, I know what you mean. My son works at the Capitol and I thank God every day that they have the security they do.

kathy d. said...

Living in NYC was tough following 9/11. Someone I know lost his partner of ten years. A very good friend who worked at the WTC was saved because he went to work an hour late that day. One friend donated blood. We all grieved and cried. Every time I went outside my house I saw photos of missing relatives posted and appeals from relatives; it was excruciating. Then signs up to bring food to the rescue dogs, then signs asking people to adopt the pets who'd been left alone for days.
Not one to pray, I cried and cried every time I saw those photos or requests for pet adoptions.
Then I thought of people around the world who have been hit by bombs and lost loved ones and I cried more.
On the air raid drills, in 1953 in Chicago, we had to crawl under the desks or stand in the hallway. I somehow knew that wouldn't save us.
I just hope for peace, not war for everyone's sake and the planet's.
Meanwhile, I read mysteries whenever I worry about all of this...good escapism.