Thursday, September 11, 2008

God Bless America*

Where were you seven years ago?

M & I were actually flying. To San Francisco. We got stopped in Dallas, TX. We landed just after the second plane hit and I remember no one from the flight crew said a word as we got off the plane. They just asked us to check at the information desks. Not knowing anything had happened, I didn't notice if they looked upset or worried or confused. But the airport was a different story - all the TV monitors were tuned to those horrible images from NY and people everywhere were talking and trying to get the story straight (no one knew about the Pentagon or United 93 yet.) M & I immediately called our parents to let them know we were OK and that we'd call them from San Francisco when we got there (ha!) We watched our world change completely sitting in an airport TGIFridays. When the towers fell I cried and cried as did most of the people around us. Thank God I was there with M and we were not traveling alone, as we so often did back in the those busy, two-career, pre-kid days.

Because the company I worked for had offices in the WTC, I called some of my co-workers to see if they had heard if people had been able to get out and I cried some more when I realized that some hadn't.

We were in Dallas for a week. The sense of community was incredible. Everywhere we went people wanted to talk about what had just happened to us as a country and what was going to happen next and who exactly was this Osama bin Laden guy and what the heck is Al Qaeda?! It was a total crash course - one that was probably overdue - on Middle East affairs, Islam and terrorism. I still remember how eerie is was to not see any planes flying at all that week. On Friday, Delta was finally able to send us back to Florida. The Dallas airport was filled with quietly nervous passengers - everyone eyeing up their fellow travelers - and battalions of heavily armed men. They must have been military, but I just remember the huge guns. The flight was almost completely silent - there was no drink or snack and the flight attendants didn't even walk around. You could feel the tension. A man right across the aisle from us looked ready to spring into action; you could tell he wasn't going anywhere without a fight.

Delta got us into West Palm Beach (I forget why Tampa wasn't an option) and we rented a car to drive back to St. Petersburg. We stopped at my parents' in Naples first and it was such a relief to see my family. I'm so grateful for each day we have together.

This morning at the morning opening at D's school (we call it Flag for short), the administration had a beautiful ceremony - the kids sang God Bless America, we all said the Pledge of Allegiance, we prayed the Hail Mary, and then Taps was played as the Flag was lowered to half-staff. We are blessed to be able to send D to a school where these liberties are not taken for granted and where we are raising a generation of responsible, aware and committed children who will not be afraid to continue to stand up for the principles and beliefs on which this country was founded and who will grow up to lead and protect future generations.

*I originally titled this post "A moment of silence." I like this title better.


Scarlet O'Kara said...

Beautiful post.

I remember too...

Debbie said...

I remember UF shutting down. I tried calling and calling family, but all the lines were busy. I finally got through to someone and they said that you and M were in Dallas. We stood around the dorm TVs in disbelief; and then I thought I heard a reporter say that one of the planes was from Dallas (not Dulles) and I lost it.

The next day, there were fliers all over campus made by a more globally-minded student calling Bin Laden to come out from his cowardly hiding place. I had no idea what the flier meant.

Today, my students knew that it was a serious thing, but they didn't quite get it. They were more astonished that they were only 1 year old when it happened.