Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where Were You?

Just as every other American, today I have my eyes and thoughts turned to the East Coast where ten years ago four commuter planes were overcome by Middle Eastern Terrorist monsters and flown into the World Trade Center towers, Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. The north and south towers in New York City were attacked first, followed closely by the third into the Pentagon. When the first plane hit confusion and misunderstanding began. It had to be an accident, but when Flight 175 flew into the second tower everyone was accutely aware that this was no accident. Flight 93, the fourth and final hijacked plane, had passengers aware of what was going on in NYC and D.C. and they decided to take action. Men and women who were on their way to San Francisco on a normal business day suddenly became the picture of Modern American Heroism.

All of this happened while most of us in Alaska and the rest of the West Coast was sleeping. Alaskans woke up to news of Terrorism - not accident - and towers falling.

I remember dreaming of people screaming that morning. I listen to the TV, Radio or (now) iPod while sleeping to drown out street noises that keep me from sleeping (it doesn't always work). In 2001 I was listening to Moody Radio and they were broadcasting the events as they happened just like all other media outlets. My subconcious fed off of what I was apparently hearing, but I had no idea what was going on. It was a radio program, surely this was not real. Then a loud booming came from my bedroom door. "Dad! I still have half an hour to sleep!" and then a gruff, almost frustrated voice answered with "America's under attack. Get up."

How the heck was I supposed to understand or even imagine what would greet my eyes from the television when I walked into the living room? The towers were on fire - back in 2001 I didn't even know there WAS a World Trade Center. I couldn't have pointed them out of any picture and identify them in teh skyline. The only buildings in NYC that I knew were the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. I know the Twin Towers now. We watched as reports came in and new amatuer footage was shared. And all the while I remember thinking that life would forever be different.

School was still going to be in session. So off we headed to KCHS. I had two classes: Band and Math. While every other student was in the gym and library, the band class stayed in session. Every door was open and as we walked into the classroom every music stand was already in place and music was out. We were going to play the songs of America. Without practice, without warning... without much warm up. It was Deb Sounart's way of showing support, strength and resolve. Some of us were unable to continue to play, and made their way into an office or instrument room to grieve. Fear, saddness all overwhelmed each of us differently.

Second period had us all filing into the next class. And then it was decided that the rest of the day would be spent in one of the big rooms watching CNN. We watched the towers fall. We watched as people jumped from the buildings, ran out with blood and burns all over...

Ten years later those images and memories are still vivid. Yes, we were far away from the destruction and chaos, but the patriotic feelings that followed, and the determination was real and strong.

I just finished watching the tribute on NBC. A part of me wishes it were the full day that would be a final tribute, and yet, that we move on with football and other American traditions I can't help but think this is just another victory over the Terrorism. They wanted to stop us, make us fearful, break our knees. They may have gravely injured our hearts, but that just strengthens us as a nation and people. For my generation 9-11 is like Pearl Harbor for my grandfather's generation. It's not just a day that lives in infamy. It's not just a day that will be forever remembered by those who lived it. It's also a day that marks America's wake up call. That we're not immune to the World. That we're not above the other countries somehow protected by this invisible shield. It's when we let our guard down that our enemies show themselves. We're not smarter, or any such nonsense. We are our own worst enemy. We lull ourselves into this false sense of security. We're already seeing it again... and it's been only ten years. How soon we truly do forget the lessons supposedly learned.

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