Saturday, September 11, 2010

The way we were.

It was September 11, 2001.

I was in chapel at Messiah College when I first heard about the happenings in NYC that morning.  There was prayer by our college chaplain, but none of us really understood what was happening.  We had mostly just rolled out of bed and stumbled down to the gym for our required chapel credit.

It was on the way out of chapel that the picture of the day became clear to us. 

The TV's in the lobbies of the student buildings flashed images of the World Trade Centers, the smoke, the plane - nothing had yet fallen - but it all seemed like a dream.  Something that would only happen in the movies, and we were yet disconnected.

Not knowing what was to be done in such a situation, we went to our respective classes, but when we arrived, the professors told us to go back to our rooms, call our families, turn on the news.

And so we did.

I didn't call my family then - it was still unclear to me exactly what was happening in New York.  I went back to my apartment and the television was already on.  Two of my four roommates were already there with a few of the guys from upstairs and some other friends from around the apartment complex. 

I stood in the doorway for a few moments, trying to process the situation.  Images of the towers were shown from every angle, on every station, smoke...  I saw what was going on.  I immediately called Michael, my now-husband, who was working at a near-by theatre as their master electrician and sound designer.  He said he was coming over right away.  It wasn't something that you wanted to experience with people you hadn't spent a lot of time with - people with whom your relationship had not yet reached below the surface.  It was a time for deeper connections - for family - but we were at school, and our friends were the family that we had.

By the time the first tower fell there were twelve us us crammed into our living room apartment - some sitting on the floor, the couches filled, all quiet, all eyes glued to the television where the images didn't change - where the towers stood tall once and now crumbled to the ground - incomprehensible.  What was one to do - what did this mean?  Who had done this?  Why? 

When I heard about Flight 93 I was terrified.  The shock of the Twin Towers was one feeling.  But on the news they said that Flight 93 had gone down near Johnstown, PA, and that was my hometown - the place my friends and family lived.  The place I wanted to go home to now, this instant...  I hadn't heard from my parents this morning - were they alright? 

I picked up the phone to call them but the operator's voice stated in clear monotone:  "All lines are busy."  And it remained so for the next two hours.

We huddled in our apartment all day long.  One of my roommates got the idea that we should probably eat something, and made us all dinner.

We ate it on plates in front of the television.  We  watched as though our watching would make something happen, or change.  We watched as though our watching would help the situation.  As though we could somehow reach through the television and pick up the wreckage and put it all back together, like so many Legos from our childhood.

It was as though in a dream that I remember turning the television off at the end of the day.  We had been watching the same shots for such a long time that the images of the towers falling were literally burned into our retinas.  Literally burned into our memories. 

Each person in this great country has a different memory of that day. 

Some of us were at work or school.  Some of us at home - alone.  Some of us were there, in the Pentagon, in the Towers, in Stoystown when the planes fell from the sky, crashed into the buildings.  Some of us know someone who was. 

This country rallied together behind the victims and their friends and families.  There were candlelight vigils and people who rushed to Ground Zero to help clear the wreckage.  People who had been away from God for years turned to him with sudden passion.  The face of the nation was changed.

What happened in the years to follow, it has, somehow, been nine years since that day, are things that have caused much controversy among We The People, - but when faced with all of these things, it is vital that we remember the things that were accomplished on the day the Towers fell.  The day the Pentagon was infiltrated by suicidal wreckage.  The day Flight 93 crashed in Stoystown, near the summer camp I had attended my entire childhood. 

The understanding of what is truly important.  The unity we felt among our fellow Americans.  The love we felt among our family and friends. 

With whom did you spend that day?  Who did you call on the telephone when the lines opened up?  Who are these people in your life on THIS day, 9/11/2010?  What does 9/11 mean to you?


Jeff said...

You got sent back to your room? I still had class!

I definitely remember in mind thinking it was just some nut in a little two-seater like the one that had crashed into the white house a few years before.

And I remember being glued to the TV all day.

Missy said...

I totally forgot about the guy who crashed into the White House!

Missy said...

And yes - Jon N. and I were in flag football/basketball and the prof told us to go back to our rooms. We had no idea what we really going on.

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