Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9/11 Twelve Years Later

World Trade Towers

            I dropped my son off at Kindergarten and turned on the radio for the drive home. “A small plane has crashed into one of the World Trade Towers in New York.” A few blocks later, “The plane appeared to be a passenger jet, according to witnesses.” And then, “A second plane has struck the second tower. This appears to not be an accident.” No. Not an accident.
            I arrived home and turned on the t.v. I began to dress for the weekly meeting of my women’s Bible study. I returned to my den and saw that the picture on my screen was not of the World Trade Towers, but of the Pentagon, its unmistakable shape smoking from a gaping wound caused by another plane. I listened to the reports from New York and Washington.
            I drove to my church, a few blocks away. We gathered in a circle, held hands, and prayed. Prayed for the victims. Prayed for the survivors. Prayed for those trapped in the buildings. Prayed for their families. Prayed for the rescue workers. Prayed there would be no more planes. “One of the towers has collapsed.” We prayed some more.
            The call came on my cell phone. The Johnson Space Center was shutting down. Since my son’s school was so close to the facility and many of the parents worked there, my son’s school was sending everyone home. I entered the classroom and was met by son’s smiling teacher. “We haven’t told the children anything. We’ll leave it up to you to tell your child what you want him to know.”
            “Why are leaving early?” “Something’s happened,” I said. And I told him. We turned on the t.v. when we arrived home. So much news. None of it good. A plane down in a Pennsylvania field.  All air traffic ordered down on the ground. All flights cancelled. The Capital evacuated. U.S. borders closed. A scare with a suspicious truck driving the wrong way on the interstate in Houston. “They’ll have to tear the North Tower down, I would think,” Tom Brokaw said. “There’s been so much structural damage.” And then we watched the tower fall.
            I spent the day in front of the t.v. I talked with my mother on the phone. My son lost interest in the reports and returned to his playthings, his normal life. We went out to eat that night. The little, neighborhood, Italian restaurant had set up a t.v. in the dining room so that everyone could watch the continuing reports. The mood was somber. People talked in whispers. My son enjoyed his tortellini. I smiled at him.
            School resumed. People went back to work. The rubble slowly cleared as the stories continued to come. And the stories still come. Every September 11th. We remember. We’ll never forget.

May your tea be sweet and your cotton high,
Leigh Ann Thornton

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