On September 3, 2001, I flew from Chicago back to my home in the Houston area. I was glowing inside after a wonderful visit with my mom and reuniting with former classmates at my 30th high school reunion. Both O’Hare and Houston Intercontinental Airports were bustling with activity. I couldn’t wait to see my family once again and get back to the everyday routine of school and sports.
One week and one day later, the world changed forever. I had returned to the house that September 11th morning after riding my bike with my sons to their elementary school where #1 was in fourth grade and #2 in first. It was about 7:50 a.m. (C.S.T.), and, as was my habit, I turned on the small television in the kitchen. I was going to eat breakfast and watch “Little House on the Prairie.” Fortunately, the channel was on NBC instead of Hallmark.
My eye was immediately caught by huge billows of smoke streaming from a large building. Katie Couric was saying that it looked like a private plane might have hit the north tower of the World Trade Center. As I sat down and watched the drama unfold, a second plane came into view. Unbelievably, it roared into the other tower, tragically hitting even lower than the first one. It was obvious: America was under attack. Tears started rolling down my cheeks. The United States and Americans would never be the same.
Today is a somber day of remembrance for us. Even though I didn’t know anyone who perished in the attacks, I still feel sad for those who lost loved ones that horrific day. Today is a terrible anniversary for them and for our great nation.
Every September I read “102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers.” The authors, Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn, did meticulous research in resurrecting what happened inside the WTC that day. It’s a well-written, compelling read and a great reminder of what it was like that day for thousands who lived and died, and those who tried to rescue them. It also reminds me of those whose lives changed forever at the Pentagon and in a field in Pennsylvania.
It took me several months after 9/11 before I remembered that I had flown a week before the attacks when airplanes were used as weapons of terrorism. I’m not a big fan of flying anyway, and I felt so shaken when I thought about what could have been if my reunion had been a week later. At the very least, I could’ve been stranded in between Chicago and Houston away from my family at a time when everyone needed to be surrounded by their loved ones.
This morning I thought about the people who died in the Twin Towers, as well as those who were in the Pentagon and on Flight 93. They will never be forgotten by us.