Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9/11/01 Twelve Years Later

It is hard to believe that it has been 12 years since Islamofacist Terrorists took four passenger jets and committed the worst attack on American soil since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
But it has been 12 years.
Nearly 3,000 people died when two jets hit both World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon on that fateful morning. And if it was not for the knowledge and thinking of some passengers, another plane, United Airlines flight 93 may have done the carnage and damage that it was suppose to do. But those passengers fought their hijackers and the caused the plane to crash in an open field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, killing all on board. Yet their heroism no doubt saved more lives.
But I want to reflect on what was going on in my life that day. I probably have done this before, but so what? Maybe what I can remember now is different from past remembrances.
It was not really an average morning in the RVFTLC household.
Mrs. RVFTLC and our son were up very early that day. It was an exciting day. For on that day, our son was going to Los Angeles International Airport to fly on his way to Paris, France and a semester of study abroad. It was the beginning of his long time dream to go to France.
Yeah, I know that regular readers will note I am not a big fan of France. Well, put that aside for it was his dream and I was all for it.
I told them to make sure to wake me up even though they left about 5am for the airport. Even then one had to get to the airport early for an international flight. I was awakened and said good bye.
After getting a little more sleep, I awakened and was getting ready for work.
Oh, I was excited because our then cable system had finally got the Fox News Channel and I was trying to at least listen. I remember that they were talking about a plane that crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers. It seemed that it was an accident at first. After all, who in their right mind would intentionally fly a plane into a building, right? At the time I started to watch, the people reporting did not even know that it was a passenger jet that flew into the first tower.
I continued watching and then it happened.
The second plane flew into the south tower.
It was not an accident.
At this point I was both watching on television and listening to Hugh Hewitt on the radio. He had just started his talk show not long before that and at that time was on the air from 6-9am. It became more clear that there was something seriously wrong going on.
And then, it happened again.
There were reports that the Pentagon had been attacked. And as it turned out, it was not attacked but a passenger jet flew into the heart of the defense establishment of the United States.
I kept thinking to myself, what would be next.
And what was going on with Mrs. RVFTLC and our son.
I continued to get ready and eventually head off to work.
When I got to work, we did have a television set in the office. And then we turned it on to see more of what was going on.
And it was awful.
First the north tower came crashing down. Then the south tower finally buckled and fell. The people on television were talking about how many thousands of people would be dead.
And I kept wondering about my wife and our son.
This was before everyone could and had a cell phone. So I kept calling and calling home. No answer.
In between the reporters were talking about all passenger flights being grounded around the United States. I did not know if our son was on one of those flights. Many ended up landing not in the United States but in Canada. I knew that he was going to Charlotte, North Carolina and changing planes there for the rest of his journey to Paris. Had he already arrived there? Or is he someplace else? Had he already caught his connecting flight and now in Canada? So many thoughts were racing through my mind. And trying to work at the same time.
Eventually I was finally able to speak with my wife. It seemed like an eternity yet it was about 10am when we finally connected.
Our son never made it on the airplane.
It was a chaotic scene my wife reported. That they were basically told to get in whatever form of transportation they could and get out of the airport perimeter. And that while they were doing just that, a crazy idiot phoned in a bomb threat. Nothing says disaster better than a glory hog trying to pile on to the terror, right? I was so glad that he never left but realized that his dream could be something that would not happen.
While I was totally relieved that all seemed to work out on that, The work day just got worse. I was yelled at by a customer and finally I had to tell him maybe he did not realize that the United States was attacked and that no one seemed to have a handle on what was really going on. Well, not only did that not set well with the customer but made him even madder. Eventually I just had to hang up on him.
At that place of employment, our home office was in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, just over the Hudson River from New York City. Eventually around 1pm we were told to go home for the day. And ironically I had an appointment for a cat-scan as I was preparing to have a tonsillectomy and a small nose job. Before all this, my wife had the day off from work and had offered to take me. I met her at home and we drove the local hospital so I could have the test done. Of course our son was home and beyond disappointed and trying to find out what to do now. As we were driving, I broke down and cried. Cried for people that I did not know or would ever know. Cried because, yeah I was afraid. I just could not believe that what was happening did happen. It was scarier to me because it was a terrorist attack. And terrorists are trying to maximize their terror. Eventually I stopped crying, had my test and returned home.
There was little if any diversion at that point to the events of the day. And for a while, it appeared that rescuers, they were not first responders then, found someone alive. There was hope. And that hope eventually was dashed.
All planes were grounded in American airspace for the first time in history. And yet later in bed we both heard a plane. And were scared. I had the radio on quietly and there was an interruption to let us know that it was a fighter plane.
We all were beyond numb. The day was over and yet it was not for the next several days.
Eventually our son was able to get to Paris. It was about a week and a half later than planned, but better late than never getting there, right? I did have my operation later that year. Things did and always seem to get back to a normal.
But from that moment, when the first plane hit the first tower, things were not going to be the same. Normal would be different.
But it was a day that I will never, ever forget.

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