The silence all around me.

I WAITED UNTIL TODAY, SEPTEMBER 14TH., TO TELL MY STORY OF SEPTEMBER 11TH.. I HOPE THAT ALL WHO READ THIS WILL REFLECT ON WHAT IT MEANS TO BE AN AMERICAN CITIZEN.

MY AGE GIVES ME AN INSIGHT INTO WHAT IT MEANS TO BE AN AMERICAN, AND WHAT IS IMPORTANT IN LIFE. I AM A FAR CRY FROM A BLEEDING HEART TYPE, BUT MY PASSION FOR THIS COUNTRY STEMS FROM MY CHILDHOOD, MY PARENTS AND MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE SERVING THIS COUNTRY.

THIS STORY WILL NOT BE A FLAG WAVING RAH RAH USA STORY. THIS IS REALITY.

MY JOB WAS THAT OF A TRAVELING SALESMAN IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA. PROBABLY, THE BEST JOB A FISHERMAN COULD HAVE. I WORKED, AND I FISHED, ETC., ETC., ETC., THERE ARE VERY FEW PLACES IN THIS STATE THAT HAVE NOT SEEN MY BOOT MARKS ON THE SHORE OR IN THE WATER. ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL LOCATIONS IN THIS GLORIOUS REGION IS THE TAMPA BAY AREA. THE HOME OF THE SKYWAY BRIDGE AND FT. DESOTO PARK, AND THE BEAUTIFUL SURROUNDING WATERS OF THE GULF. THIS IS WHERE THIS STORY BEGINS.

IT WAS A CLEAR MORNING IN BRADENTON, A SUBURB OF TAMPA. I WAS STAYING AT A RAMADA INN. THIS MOTEL HAD BEEN MY HOME AWAY FROM HOME FOR YEARS. IT PUT ME CLOSE TO MY FISHING HAUNTS AS WELL AS IT WAS CENTRAL TO MY CUSTOMERS. ON SEPTEMBER 11TH. I HAD A VERY EARLY APPOINTMENT, AND THEN I WAS FREE FOR THE DAY. WELL, YOU CAN BET I WAS GOING TO BE ON, IN, OR BY THE WATER AS SOON AS I COULD.

WELL, I DECIDED TO WADE NEAR THE SKYWAY BRIDGE. THERE WAS A FLAT THERE, THAT HAD VERY STRONG CURRENT, AND MANGROVE STRUCTURE. THIS WAS MY SPOT FOR SNOOK AND REDFISH THIS TIME OF THE YEAR. THE SKY WAS CLEAR AND A LIGHT COLOR BLUE, WITH JUST A WISP OF FLUFFY CLOUDS AROUND. THE WATER WAS STILL WARM FROM THE SUMMER HEAT, BUT THERE WAS A HINT OF "FLORIDA FALL" IN THE AIR. I HAD JUST BOUGHT A LIGHT FISHING VEST, AND I WAS SO HAPPY IT HAD A FOLD DOWN SECTION WHERE I COULD ASSEMBLE MY TACKLE WITHOUT IT GETTING WET.

ACTUALLY, I DON'T REMEMBER THE TIME OF DAY, OR WHETHER IT WAS MORNING OR AFTERNOON. YOU SEE, WHEN I WADE OUT INTO THE WATER, I SEEM TO FADE INTO A PLACE OF CALM, AND PEACE, THAT IS HARD TO DESCRIBE. I SUPPOSE MANY FISHERMEN GET THE SAME FEELING. I WROTE PREVIOUSLY IN ANOTHER ARTICLE ABOUT MY " LAUGHING PLACE"; WELL THIS IS ANOTHER ONE OF THOSE PLACES.

AS I REACHED WAIST DEPTH, I NOTICED SOME ACTIVITY TO THE NORTH OF ME. THE WATER WAS SWIRLING FROM BAIT FISH. I CAST TO THAT AREA, AND THE BAIT SCATTERED, AS I PULLED MY LURE BACK TO ME. FOUR TIMES, FIVE TIMES, SIX TIMES I CAST, AND THEN POW!!!!! IT WAS A SNOOK, AND A GOOD SIZE ONE. IT JUMPED, AND TORE OUT LINE, TRYING TO GET BACK TO THE MANGROVES. I WAS ABLE TO TURN IT AND LANDED HER IN ABOUT FIFTEEN MINUTES. I SAY "HER" BECAUSE, WHEN SHE WAS RELEASED, I COULD SEE THAT HER BELLY WAS FULL OF ROE. I TOOK A DEEP BREATH AND DECIDED TO MOVE FROM THAT SPOT SINCE I HAD MADE SO MUCH COMMOTION, I FIGURED I WOULD MOVE TO A LOCATION THAT HAD QUIET WATER.

AS I BEGAN TO WALK, I NOTICED THAT THERE WERE ABSOLUTELY NO SOUNDS AROUND. I NORMALLY WOULD HEAR SOME TRAFFIC SOUND FROM THE BRIDGE, OR PLANES FLYING OVER FROM TAMPA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, OR BOATS IN THE MAIN CHANNEL. THERE WAS COMPLETE SILENCE AROUND ME. I WAS MYSTIFIED, AND CURIOUS, BUT I KEPT WALKING TO THE QUIET WATER, WHEN SUDDENLY I WAS STARTLED BY MY CELLPHONE RINGING. IT WAS DIFFICULT TO GET THE PHONE OUT OF MY INSIDE SHIRT POCKET, BUT I FINALLY DID AFTER THREE OR FOUR RINGS. I ANSWERED THE PHONE, AND IT WAS MY WIFE. "WHERE ARE YOU" SHE SAID. I TOLD HER, AND SHE SAID "THAT THERE HAD BEEN SOME KIND OF TRADGEDY IN NEW YORK, AND THE COUNTRY WAS ON ALERT". I TOLD HER I WOULD GET OUT OF THE WATER AND CALL HER BACK WHEN I WAS ASHORE.

AS I WALKED THE TWO HUNDRED YARDS BACK TO SHORE, I COULD NOW SEE.THAT THERE WAS NO TRAFFIC ON THE BRIDGE, THERE WERE NO SHIPS IN THE CHANNEL AND NOT A SIGN OF A PLANE ANY WHERE. EVEN THE BIRDS SEEMED TO HAVE SHUT DOWN. THIS WAS A SUREAL TIME FOR ME. MY QUIET SPACE BECAME SILENT.

AS I GOT TO THE CAR, I REALIZED THAT SOMETHING IMPORTANT WAS GOING ON. I TURNED THE RADIO ON, AND THERE WAS INCOHERENT CHATTER COMING FROM THE NEWSCASTER. I WAS ABLE TO HEAR ABOUT THE PLANES IN NEW YORK, AND THEN THERE WAS THE NEWS ABOUT THE PLANE THAT WENT DOWN IN PENNSYLVANIA. I HURRIED TO CLEAN UP AND PUT EVERYTHING AWAY. AS I STARTED THE CAR, I SPOTTED A HIGHWAY PATROL CAR SLOWLY COMING SOUTH ACROSS THE BRIDGE. THE OFFICER STOPPED AND BECKONED ME TO EXIT THE CAR. I DID AND WAS TOLD THIS WAS JUST A ROUTINE CHECK OF MY VEHICLE. HE THEN PROCEEDED TO SEARCH IN AND UNDER THE CAR. FINALLY HE TOLD ME TO GET IN THE CAR AND HE WOULD ESCORT ME OFF THE LOWER BRIDGE AREA. HE DID, AND SENT ME ON MY WAY. I PROCEEDED TO THE MOTEL, PACKED MY THINGS, AND DEAD HEADED HOME.

THE RADIO WAS BLASTING NEWS OF BODIES AND SMOKE, AND HORRIBLE FIRES IN NEW YORK. I CALLED MY WIFE BACK AND TOLD HER THAT I WOULD BE HOME IN FOUR OR FIVE HOURS. AFTER IT WAS REVEALED THAT WE HAD BEEN ATTACKED, I HAD VISIONS OF PEARL HARBOR AS A KID. I REMEMBER, AS A CHILD, THE BLACKOUTS, AND MY FATHERS FUNNY HAT THAT HE HAD TO WEAR WHEN HE WENT TO THE STREETS ON THOSE BLACKOUT NIGHTS. THE ALARMS, AND THE SILENCE ALL AROUND ME IN MY ROOM. WE WERE ALL TOGETHER THEN. MY MOTHER AND FATHER AND MY GRANDFATHER. WE LIVED IN A RAILWAY FLAT TYPE OF APARTMENT IN THE BRONX, NEW YORK. WHEN THE ALARMS SOUNDED "ALL CLEAR" WE WOULD GO UP ON THE ROOF WITH ALL OF,OUR NEIGHBORS AND THE ADULTS WOULD SMOKE CIGARETTES, AND THE KIDS WOULD PLAY GAMES. I WOULD HEAR THE DIFFERENT ACCENTS OF OUR NEIGHBORS ALL TALKING HOW PROUD THEY WERE TO BE IN THIS COUNTRY, AND HOW PROUD THEY WERE OF THEIR SONS IN THE MILITARY.

THEIR DEVOTION TO THIS COUNTRY, AND THEIR LOVE OF FREEDOM WAS SO CONTAGIOUS, THAT IT HAS LEFT MANY STRONG FEELINGS IN MY HEART, THAT HAVE HELPED SHAPE MY CHARACTER. MY LOVE FOR THIS COUNTRY HAS NEVER WAIVERED, BUT I FEAR FOR THE FUTURE AND "THE SILENCE ALL AROUND ME"

SINCERELY,

OLDE SALT

Comments 3 comments

valerie 7 years ago

you missed your calling..........


proud son 7 years ago

looking foward to hearing more from olde salt


ellen 7 years ago

we all can remember 9/11....where we were and what we were doing...your feelings are shared by me...it seemed the world stood still for those few hours..I know I felt so helpless...not scared...but aware that life as we knew it would never be the same again....even after 8 years we look at everyone differently....could they be involved in another horible attack plan? the word"stranger" has taken on a new meaning.....people are not as tolerant of different cultures.....I think we have taken a backward step in international relations...time will never heal the wounds of 911....

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