I Will Always Remember Where I Was, September 11, 2001
The National Guard Responding to Attack
The Day I Sat Outside In The Sunshine, Blue Sky Day And PRAYED
I guess the attacks on September 11th of 2001 on American soil, for many people, will always be similar to the day of the JFK Assassination. People for years to come will say "I remember EXACTLY where I was when I first heard the news!" For me, that day is as fresh in my mind as if it happened only weeks ago, and not almost twelve YEARS ago!
I was working in retail at the time and I remember I was in the jewelry department. It was the day that we usually were in that department because we were doing price changes there. Different departments had different days of the week that we were assigned to go into them, and make changes to prices. We marked things clearance that were on the way out, and just made regular changes to other prices. I can remember clearly being ready to go on our first break. Since we started at 6:00 a.m., by 9:00 a.m., about the time the attacks took place, it was already break time.
I remember the lady who was the jewelry department team lead at that time came back from the break room with TEARS in her eyes. I thought something awful must have just happened! She told us the news and then picked up a phone to call her daughter to tell her that she loved her.
Our biggest reaction was shock, an unsettled feeling. I could not help but think, is this the only thing that's going to happen to our country today? Then a while later, we heard about the Pentagon, and later the field in Pennsylvania. As the day progressed, we heard the updated news reports and I felt an awful feeling of dread, being scared, knowing this was not just a plane that accidentally flew into a tower, but was an intentional act of violence meant to kill Americans!
Later we found out that whoever was responsible for these attacks had flown planes into TWO towers, then the Pentagon, followed soon by those brave acts by the people on United Airlines flight 93 that went down in the Pennsylvania field. What kind of person or group would DO such a thing?
I can remember while I was on my lunch break I went outside to sit on a bench. I just wanted to be alone for a minute to collect my thoughts instead of listening to all of the "chatter" in the break room. Everyone seemed to have an opinion, and for some reason everyone felt compelled to share it with everyone else, all at the same time. It became pretty loud in that room at times.
I just wanted to bow my head in prayer. For those people in those towers, those in the Pentagon, and on that plane... for all the loved ones who had lost their loved ones, for the children, for the brave firefighters and responders, for the people in the surrounding areas. All I wanted at that point was to pray... sit outside, in the blue sky sunny day that we were having in Wisconsin at the time, and PRAY like I never had before.
All throughout the afternoon, you could hear chatter in the store, customers talking amongst themselves and to the employees. Everyone was talking about the same thing. I think in the fourteen years that I worked in retail, I never saw another day like September 11, 2001... just the way it brought people together, total strangers, empathizing with one another.
Some were saying they had a relative or friend in New York City, and how they had been trying to get in touch with them. Then someone else would say "I'll say a prayer for you that your loved one is OK". That kind of kinship and camaraderie was pretty rare, and I knew that I was witnessing something special and extraordinary.
I can remember having some trouble sleeping for days, even weeks after that. It gives you such an uncertain and somewhat unsettled feeling... what if there were more attacks in the days and weeks to come? I can remember watching the CMA, Country Music Awards two months after the attack, broadcast live from Nashville, TN and thinking... how can we just go on with an awards show as if nothing had happened? Doing that seemed "superficial" to me...
THEN, Alan Jackson walked out onstage, guitar in hand and started with "Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning"... and I sat there in shock with tears in my eyes. He was putting to MUSIC what I had been (and a lot of the country had been) feeling since the attacks. The shock, all of the horror - and the song itself was a litany of questions that were seemingly without just one answer. It was beautifully written, beautifully delivered, just the perfect song for that period of time we had all just been through. I remember getting goosebumps... and that doesn't happen very often to me!
I can see myself telling not only my grandchildren about that day, but if the good Lord is willing perhaps one day I will even tell my great-grandchildren about that day and what it meant to the country. I can tell them how PROUD they can be of all of the people of the United States who pulled together in a way I had never seen before. I just hope that one day the country can pull together like that again, but never again under those kind of circumstances! I hope that if that camaraderie happens again it is for a positive reason and not because the country we live in and love is being attacked.