September 11, 2001 ~ a day that I will never forget.
August 8, 2001 - the two pictures above were taken by my brother, Tony, just a month before the attacks. These shots always bring a tear to my eye.
September 11, 2001, 6:28 AM, PST, the alarm clock wakes me up with the sound of a commercial on the radio. I instantly hit the snooze button and fall back asleep. At 6:35 the alarm goes off again. My radio is always set to 104.1 FM, the central valley home of the nationally syndicated Bob & Tom show, a lively comedic morning radio program. I could tell right away that something wasn’t right. I heard Tom’s voice first, then Christy’s, then Bob’s. They were talking about an airplane that hit the World Trade Center building. I jumped up in bed in fright; airplanes always scared me and hearing of crashes always scared the hell out of me. Visions of TWA flight 800, the Lockerbie tragedy, and JFK Jr., all came to mind. Then I heard the words that terrified me: “…in what seems to be an intentional act…” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Just the day before I had read a newspaper article about another mass murder in California and became depressed. I started thinking that night that society was really going downhill.
I jumped out of bed and walked in to the family room and turned it to ABC. The first thing I saw was the image of the World Trade Center burning. My initial reaction was that some lunatic pilot went crazy. Then I heard the word, “hijack” and saw that the Pentagon was also on fire. I then heard that there were actually two planes that hit the World Trade Center; the second hit a little bit before I got out of bed and was shown live all across the world, the images of which I cannot get out of my mind.
Panic started to set in for me and I couldn’t help but cry. Tears flowed for all of the people that were lost and the pain their families were going through. Tears also came from true fear. For the first time in my 29 years, I was afraid that my safety, and that of my family, had been jeopardized as an American citizen. I was, and am, proud to be an American but this fear was unprecedented. Just two days before, driving home from Lake Tahoe, my Father made a comment to me about Patriotism and that young people today take our freedom for granted and that patriotism is dying. I agreed and made some comment that I was thankful to be brought up in a family that taught me such a virtue.
Memories of the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City came to mind. In the hours afterwards, everyone thought foreigners were to blame. I have very good friends of middle-eastern descent and they were mistreated everywhere they went. People would shout profanities at them and accuse them and their race of the horrific crime. Then, we discovered it was the act of a white male American. I was so ashamed. Now, I find myself hoping that we don’t make the same mistakes we did then. We are not sure who caused this yet but even after we discover the truth, I hope we do not take it out on our citizen’s of that race.
Going to work was very difficult. When my Mother passed away last year I felt as if everyone was staring at me, everywhere I went. That feeling was back, except I could tell that everyone around me felt the same way. The company I work for, one of the largest credit card banks in the US, closed some sites across the country and allowed anyone that wanted to go home the opportunity to do so, paid. I am proud of my employer for making so many sacrifices for the sake of the people that work there.
On my way home the freeways were desolate. There was an American flag on an overpass and I got a tingle down my spine. I started to cry as I drove on the quiet freeway. Somehow, I knew we would be okay, I believed we would get through this tragedy.
With almost no exception, I must say that I am proud of the patriotism our citizens, and most of the world, have shown. We will rise above this in spite of the terror because of our pride for our way of life. My children will grow up in a different America now, one that will no longer take our freedom for granted, one that will cherish our flag and shine bright in our world. We shall never forget the shear pain in our hearts during this time as every American joins together to rebuild our country and our faith.
I am proud to be an American. I am proud of who I am. Thank you to my Family, and especially my parents, for giving me the virtue of true patriotism. Our thoughts go out to those affected by this tragedy, we are sad for you, we cry for you. Family is Forever! America is Forever!