There are some things that will happen in life that will forever change you, sometimes for the better but oftentimes, for the worse. That’s how I feel about September 11, 2001. The day that terrorists attacked the United States using our own airplanes against us, they brought Americans to their knees in the most pain and hurt that I can ever remember.
As I drove down Broadway Boulevard in St. Louis, Mo listening and singing my favorite songs from my gospel CD, I decided to turn on the radio to see if a report was being given on the condition of the highway. What I heard brought tears to my eyes and panic in my heart. I heard that more than 10,000 were presumed dead after planes had crashed into the twin towers in New York. Shaking, I pulled to the side of the road and called my husband. “Honey, we are being attacked.”
“I know. The country is on high alert. But nothing is happening in this region. So go to work and if anything changes I will contact you.”
Even though I knew that my husband had more information than I would ever know, I cried for the people who were killed in the attack. My husband told me that the number of dead was an estimate until they could get more information. So I began to pray. I had faith that things would not be as bad as 10,000 people losing their lives. “Please God, don’t let those numbers be true.”
Once I arrived at work, people were crying. I pulled the 19 inch TV out of my closet and had the maintenance folks to come hook it up for me because I couldn’t for the life of me understand how the cable connected to each other. I was a nervous wreck. I kept looking out the window making sure that our building was clear of planes. I was a mess. Glued to the television, I sat there mesmerized by the enactment of the planes constantly slamming into the twin towers. With every slam were fresh new tears. Finally, tired of being useless at work, I tried to contact my husband for another update. Unable to reach him, I informed his secretary that I was going home.
I arrived home, changed into something more comfortable and sat in front of the television. I sat their glued. I couldn’t move. It was as if my butt had been glued to the chair. I was afraid to move my eyes away from the television screen. I felt that if I moved, we would be attacked again. I just wanted my husband to come home and tell me that all was safe and that things were under control. But as usual, when he arrived he was silent. I asked the questions, he ignored me. I bombarded him with questions.
“What’s the government doing?” “Are we safe now?” “How did this happen?” “How can the strongest and brightest country in the world allow this to happen?” Only more silence from him.
Why was I asking my husband so many questions? Well, I can’t say but I can say this. I will never forget that day. Before 911, I considered myself a jet setter. It didn’t take much for me to hop on a plane and fly to Washington, Florida, Atlanta, Texas, Chicago or anywhere else that I wanted to go. Even though I never really enjoyed flying, it was the best way for me to go to get quickly to my destination. After the horrible events of 911, I found myself canceling flights, canceling conferences, not attending family reunions, weddings, breaking vacation plans and seeing my daughter so disappointed at my stay at home attitude. See she enjoys traveling and flying from state to state. But for me, 911 took that security that I once had. Though before 911, when I flew to many destinations I was often still uneasy about it. But 911 took away that uneasiness and put into my heart pure fear.
For me getting on an airplane now meant that I had to be more cognizant of whom I was flying with and recognizing potential danger. I became more suspicious of the passengers, sizing them up. I was ready to attack if need be. I was not about to allow anyone to take us by surprised. So I watched and stared at folks who I thought fit the pattern of a terrorist. I looked at their luggage and checked to see if they looked sneaky. I would stare folks down until they felt uneasy. (I know during this time I became prejudiced.) Then I would plan in my head how I would take someone down who stood up the wrong way during the flight. I would be the protector. I was not going to allow what happened on that terrible, painful day to happen again, not on my watch. I was not playing. If someone attempted to hijack a plane I was on I would die fighting, I was going to get you before you got me.
As time passes I am getting better. Although it is very difficult to get me to travel like I once did. I still have that fear but I force myself to overcome it when I am ready to embark on an adventure. For me flying will never be the same, nor will the way that I look at the security of the United States. I know that I can not count on the United States to keep me safe, but that I feel secure in knowing that with God in my heart, peace sits right next to Him.
Even though I never met any of the people who lost their lives that day, I will always feel sad for them and their families.