The song ‘Where were you when the world stopped turning…’ has been going through my mind a lot the past few days. It’s hard to believe that it has been 10 years. Even without the “title” of this post, anyone reading it would know what I am referring to without being told. As does everyone else who is old enough to remember, I recall exactly where I was and what I was doing on that sunny Tuesday morning. At the time I still worked at Logan Telephone, and Craig of course worked at WKU. He was traveling a lot at the time, and it had gotten to the point that I didn’t bother asking for the travel details. He was to fly to Kansas City on September 11. Before he left that morning I asked him “What time do you fly out of Nashville?” and he only answered that “I’m not flying out of Nashville this time, I’m flying out of Louisville.” I didn’t know what time or what flight number or even what airline.
So we went our separate ways as usual, and I thought nothing more of it. When news at the office began to spread that a plane had hit a building in NYC, we still didn’t give it a lot of thought. Finally we decided to turn on a television, and that’s when the magnitude of what was happening began to set in.
We watched mesmerized as the buildings burned and listened intently as reporters began to share more information. As planes went down in Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon, true panic began to set in as I wondered if Craig was in the air yet and if more planes were targeted. Of course the cellular networks were jammed and I couldn’t get through to him. We didn’t have texting at the time, and there was no Twitter or Facebook to provide status updates. I was trying to be level-headed and logical about it (my LTC co-workers can tell me if they agree with that or not)…I mean, really what were the chances? I have a strong conviction not to fret about something until I know that there is something to fret about! When I finally did hear from him that his flight was canceled before he ever left Louisville I was relieved and thankful, and I couldn’t wait to go home to my family that night.
At the office we stood around the television, unable to focus on work or anything besides what we were watching. The TV images of the towers falling, of frantic people running in all directions, of first responders doing their jobs, of Peter Jennings tearing up as he told about hearing from his own children that they were OK, of pictures of missing people plastered all over the city…are all burned into my mind. Over the next several days and weeks, as endless human interest stories were told and as heroes emerged, most everyone seemed to be in a state of melancholy. The sense of sadness and loss for people I didn’t even know were almost overwhelming at times, and there were other times when I felt guilty for the selfish joy I felt when I knew Craig was OK that day. Now, 10 years later as we commemorate the events of September 11, 2001, the feelings of sadness and fear resurface.
This Saturday WKU football will play Navy and I have a feeling that the ceremonial events before and during the game are going to be more emotional than the game itself. It is Military Appreciation night and a fitting time to honor all Military personnel on the day before the 10th anniversary. I hope the stands are full and the atmosphere is charged (or JUICED as Coach Taggart would say) but respectful. If anyone who reads this is coming to the game, please bring an item or two to go into care packages that will be sent to Soldiers in just a few days. It’s hard to know what we as individuals can possibly do to help, so this is a tangible and easy way to do something meaningful. There are around 500 people in the unit that the items will go to, and simple items like beef jerky, hard candy, shaving supplies and deodorant – things that we take for granted – would be much appreciated by Sergeant Major Brownell and his unit in Afghanistan. Here are a couple of links about the adopted unit, the items being collected and many of the other events planned at that game: http://bit.ly/nJKVSL (go to page 50 of the magazine) and http://bit.ly/qcTCJg. Even if you’re not coming to the game, please help spread the word so that we can collect as many items as possible.
These are my personal thoughts and memories. Where were you and what were you doing on that day? What do you remember the most?