"" Writer's Wanderings: 9/11--Forever etched in my mind

Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11--Forever etched in my mind

I was seventeen. My mother had picked me up from school and we stopped at the donut shop so I could run in to get a dozen donuts to take home. The radio in the store blared the breaking news: President Kennedy had been shot. Mom said I looked as white as a sheet when I came out of the store. JFK had been an idol of sorts. The first president I learned to care about. I will never forget that weekend.

It was the morning of April 19, 1995. I was doing laundry. Two of my kids were at college. One was married and the youngest two were at school. I sat down in front of the TV to fold clothes when the breaking news of the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City interrupted the morning programming. I watched in horror as people, bloodied and in shock, walked trance-like in the street until someone came to their aid. Then, the heartbreaking news: there was a daycare center in the building. How? Why? Who?

September 11, 2001. The last child would be leaving home soon. We were to spend the morning buying furniture for his apartment. Before I left, I sat in my sewing room (my daughter's old room) with a small television tuned to Good Morning America and worked on my quilting project. The phone rang. It was the church secretary with a question for me. I don't remember the question because as I turned to answer the phone, Diane Sawyer and Charles Gibson announced the breaking news: a plane had hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center. I remembered pictures from a old newsreel I'd seen on the History Channel of the plane crashing into the Empire State Building. How odd I thought, history repeating itself.

Then the second plane hit. This was no accident. Anyone could deduce that. Why? Who? We would soon know.

I left the house, glad to have something else to do. I remembered how watching the Oklahoma City tragedy had affected me and I didn't want to experience the depths of that emotion again. . .little did I know. . .

Don and I shopped for his furniture and household supplies. Every where we went the stores were disturbingly quiet and most employees were glued to TVs or standing in the middle of aisles listening to the speakers that were filling hearts with the enormity of the tragedy.

We stopped for lunch at a pizza restaurant and I positioned myself where I could see the television. Suddenly the picture showed a tower collapsing, then the second one. When they replayed the scene I realized what I had missed in my morning's busyness. Don ate most of the pizza. In his limited mental capacity he didn't understand the implications of what was happening.

I dropped him off at home and hurried off to a funeral at church. On the way, I heard the news that the pentagon had also been attacked. I didn't realize then that overhead Flight 93 had turned away from Cleveland and headed for DC. Now a gnawing emptiness began to fill me. What did all this mean? Who? Why?

Those days immediately following were eerie. The noise of airplanes in the sky to which we had grown accustomed, suddenly was gone--the quiet was deafening. What would we do? Did this mean invasion? Did it mean, at the very least,war? Who? Why?

The whos of JFK's assassination and the Oklahoma bombing have mostly been answered as have the whos of 9/11. But the whys. . .will they ever have acceptable answers? What is it about the quest for power that drives men to kill, that drives one group of people to try to destroy another? I believe it all has to do with power--the need to control. The destruction, the death, will not stop until the need for power, for control over others is harnessed by spirits that seek peace and respect and love for each other.

Until then, I take comfort in knowing we are all in God's hands. I pray there will be no more dates like these etched in my memory.

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