I wrote this story in 2011 and have published it every anniversary. I still have difficulty when viewing a large plane at a lower level, making a turn in the air. The scars run deep.
I hope that we never forget as a nation the horror of that time.
A Day Trimmed In Black
My maternal grandmother was born on September 11, 1897, so while growing up that was the important fact to me about that date. After she died in October 1991, I sent flowers to my mother on what would have been my grandmother's birthday the following year. After 2001, however, I unfortunately had a different reason to remember the 11th of September.
As the anniversary comes up marking that tragic time, all of us who are American citizens, (and many who aren't) remember where we were when the events unfolded. It was a difficult day for all of us. Personally, for several hours that day, fear camped out beside me on the sofa because my husband had been in New York and was flying out that morning.
When a friend called me about 9:30 to tell me to turn on the news, I sat there in shock, and all that was being said at the time was that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. What plane? From where? No one knew. I quickly called my husband's assistant and asked her what time John's flight was supposed to leave New York and she told me that it had just left and that some of the men in the group who had been scheduled for an upcoming flight had told her that they were just informed that there would be no more planes out. Knowing that I could not get a hold of John while he was in flight, I was very afraid that the plane was his which had hit the building and then when it came out that the flight was from Boston, I had a such sense of relief which almost made me feel guilty.
John had been in the Financial District, right in the area of the World Trade Center, for a business meeting all day on Monday, September 10th, with several other businessmen from Charleston. He told me later that when his plane took off, it circled back around to fly over New York City on its way south. They passed the tower from a short distance away, and could see the black smoke billowing out. The pilot spoke to the passengers and told them that a small plane had accidentally flown into the building, but John and several others realized that no small plane would have caused the amount of smoke and flames they saw. There was no other word from the pilots until about a half hour later, when it was announced that the plane would be landing at Norfolk VA because of an emergency. No one on the plane knew what had happened until they came into the airport terminal.
He called me right away, knowing I'd be very concerned about his whereabouts. I don't think I was ever so relived to hear his voice! He sounded somewhat in shock, and there was so much confusion and noise in the terminal I could hardly hear him. He said that the pilot had told them they were the last plane out of the New York airport. We also realized later that the second plane to hit the towers had been in the same air space his plane was in, several miles behind. That gave us both chills.
His group was trying to find a rental car for the trip home, while the other part of the traveling contingency was now stuck in New York and would not arrive home for several more days. About midday, John's group finally found a minivan and started the long drive home. Traffic on I-95 was almost bumper to bumper the entire way, and they spent the trip listening to the radio and getting calls from their family members with updates as the day progressed. When I finally heard the van pull up about 10 pm, I rushed out the door and threw my arms around him. Even though I knew he was all right, watching the news programs all day made his absence much more acute and being with him was the only thing I really wanted!
On September 11, there will be many speeches and events marking the time since this tragedy happened. We will remember and pray for those families whose lives were directly impacted by the fall of the Towers. Life in this world has no certainty, but life in the next does and that understanding gives us the grace to go forward each day. Love the people in your life and let them know it with hugs and smiles. And let them love you and tell you how important you are to them!