Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Remembering 9/11/2001 - A Word from Scott

Six years ago on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, I was on vacation in Myrtle Beach, SC with my family. It was the first true vacation trip for my 8 year old son. He loved the beach the first moment he saw it and had tried to spend every waking moment in the sand and surf since we had arrived just 2 days earlier.

Even though most schools had started a week or two earlier, there was still a good amount of people who had chosen the ‘off’ season to bring their families to the beach. Sunday and Monday, children could be seen running back and forth playing in the waves and looking for seashells brought in by the tide and the waves.

The mood on the beach, and in the country for that matter, was as it had always been, relaxed and for the most part carefree. The tragic event that was about to befall us was incomprehensible to most people.

Yes, other parts of the world had suffered acts of terrorism over the years, and even our own embassies and military had tragic losses, but again, those occurred in other parts of the world. We as a nation saw ourselves as basically untouchable on our own soil. How wrong we were.

When I awoke that Tuesday morning, I did what I normally do, I staggered into the kitchen and made a pot of coffee. Being that I was at the beach I decided to go out onto the balcony and take in the sounds and smell of the surf. I noticed the morning walkers out on the beach and a few families that were out early to try and get a pick of the shells that the early morning tide had washed ashore. All in all it was starting out to be a beautiful day.

Then I turned on the TV in living room…

As a habit I turned on the Today Show. Katie Couric and Matt Lauer were talking about reports coming in that a plane had just crashed into one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center. I woke up my wife and told her what was happening. We sat and watched as NBC went to a live shot that was coming in from a helicopter over New York City. When I saw the smoke I thought naively that this must have been some terrible accident.

I was proven wrong not 17 minutes later when on live TV we watched as a second plane flew directly into the other tower.

My son had awoken by this time and was watching TV with his mom and dad. He was 8 years old and started asking dozens of questions. We answered him as best we could. We were transfixed by what we were seeing, and had nearly as many questions as he did.

Over the next hour we watched as reports came in regarding the possibility that other planes could be flying towards other buildings…. other targets.

Those fears were realized with reports of a plan crashing into the Pentagon, and a half-hour later reporting that another plane had crashed into the ground in Pennsylvania.

What was next? The White House? The U.S. Capital? What about other cities across the country? In my home state of Illinois my thought was of all the people in and around the Sears Tower.

As the hours passed my wife and I decided that we needed to do something in order to distract ourselves and our son from the horrific scenes that were on literally every TV channel. As adults we were dealing with a multitude of emotions at the loss of so many innocent lives. But for our young son, the images were only of un-imaginable destruction and the only emotions were confusion and anger.

Everywhere we went that afternoon, we ran into other families who were obviously out with their children trying to do the same thing. Children not old enough to grasp the gravity of the mornings events, were instead able to read the concern on their parents faces. And there was a somber calm at ever turn.

We understood what our children could not, that the world as we knew it had taken a drastic change and that nothing would be the same. Six years later, things are still changed.

Restrictions and heightened conditions surround us. The world that we grew up in may never again exist for our children and our grandchildren. My son, now 14 is still afraid to fly. He still has occasional questions but can now follow them up with statements of ideas of retribution for those who backed the cowardly 19. I think we have all had similar thoughts.

Are we as a nation doing everything right? Are we doing absolutely everything we can to protect ourselves, and still not infringe upon individual liberties? Have we gone over the top? I don’t have the answer. However, we have not had another attack on our soil since that fateful day.

Let’s take a moment to remember not only the national tragedy that occurred, but the thousands of personal tragedies that occurred. Today is a day to remember those friends and family members who were lost on this day. Some helping others, others just trying to live their lives.

Let us never forget.

cross-posted @ Scott's Rant Spot

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