Friday, September 11, 2015
Today is the 14th anniversary of the Day of Dread; the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia and the take down of United Flight 93 over Shanksville, Pennsylvania which invariably saved more lives.
I will write about what that day was like for me and the RVFTLC family. I probably have done so before, but I think there is always a different perspective every time I think of this horrible day.
In the RVFTLC household it was actually supposed to be an exciting day. Our son was leaving for his six months of study abroad at the Sarbonne in France. Mrs. RVFTLC had to leave for Los Angeles International Airport, better known by it's acronym code, LAX, in the wee hours of that Tuesday morning. I did not have to get up for work until about 5:45am. They had long left roughly about 4:30am. So when I woke up, I was all alone with Scout the Wonder Dog. Just us.
I began to prepare for work by eating breakfast. Fox News Channel was just added to our local cable company at the time so of course I was watching it. They were talking about a plane that seemed to crash into one of the World Trade Center towers. It seemed like a local story for the New York City area at best. The people that were talking seemed to believe and imply that it was an accident. As it turned out, it was American Airlines Flight 11 that had taken off from Gen. Logan International Airport in Boston heading to LAX. It impacted the North Tower at 8:46am, EDT.
To be honest, I got bored with the story thinking it was an accident and of little real consequence except it was more than likely people died.
How wrong I was.
I turned the television off and turned on my bathroom radio. At that time, radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt was on from 6am to 9am. He talked in passing about the situation at the World Trade Center. Again, not in a way that made it more than an accident. Although if memory does serve me right, Mr. Hewitt did speculate the possibility of a terrorist attack.
It did shortly become clear during those few moments that indeed, some thing more was about to happen and change the United States forever.
A little over 15 minutes after the first plane slammed into the North Tower, at 9:03am, a second plane, United Airlines Flight 175, also from Boston to Los Angeles, slammed into the South Tower while many television stations had cameras on the smoke and fire from the North Tower. In real time on live television the world saw a terrorist attack unfold in brutal fashion.
At that point it was clear something was amiss.
Hugh Hewitt was certain at this point that indeed, it was a terrorist attack.
I continued the process of shaving and showering for the work day, but very nervous about whether or not our son was actually in the air on his way to France.
During this time, Mr. Hewitt announced that the next piece of the terror puzzle unfolded as reports came in that the Pentagon had been attacked. It was American Airlines flight 77 heading from Dulles International Airport in Washington, D. C. to Los Angeles. Again a little over 15 minutes passed from the attack on the South Tower when more terror ensued. It was at that point when Mr. Hewitt said it. The United States was under attack.
And the infamous United Flight 93 takedown by passengers had not even taken place.
I left for work but was getting very concerned now. Keep in mind this is before the era of cell phones that we have now. A big deal that we gave our son was a phone card, remember those?, to call us from France. i heard nothing from Mrs. RVFTLC if the flight took off and if our son was OK. I called home after 8am and there was no answer. I left a message for her to call me ASAP as I wanted to know what the hell was going on.
While at work we pulled the television from our break room and started watching what, at this point, was non-stop coverage. It was no doubt my generation's Pearl Harbor and worse we were not as certain who committed this act of terror as we knew that Pearl Harbor was done by the Imperial Japanese navy and air force.
Finally I heard news that really got me upset.
All flights in the United States were to be grounded. No domestic flights. No flights going out of the United States abroad. No flights from abroad could come into the United States. It would be a surreal three days not seeing one airplane and or helicopter in the air.
Needless to say, still not hearing anything from Mrs. RVFTLC and not knowing at this point where our son was, work was pretty secondary. But I plugged along. And finally the call came.
Mrs. RVFTLC and our son literally had to play Escape From LAX as the airport, as were so many others, was being evacuated. However, there were idiots using the situation to cause more chaos and someone called in a bomb threat. It took what little order their was and made a stressful situation worse. The police were inspecting every car leaving the airport and needless to say my little family was a part of this. I did not get the call until I was at lunch around 11am. As it turned out, our son did not ever get on the plane. They had to watch the horror enfold on live television screens in an airport lounge. Mrs. RVFTLC had to tell our son that he would not be going to Paris that day. Needless to say there was a huge disapointment from him but in the end he understood.
As it turned out, our corporate headquarters was in New Jersey, not far from Ground Zero as it became to be known. And they ordered all offices closed throughout the United States. Our office closed at 2pm, PDT. By coincidence, I had an appointment to get a scan of my head to prepare for removing my tonsils and scraping some of the inside of my nose, I believe that is called rhinoplasty. My wife picked me up from work and we went to San Gabriel hospital where this had to be done. It was here that I admit, I lost it.
I just could not believe such a thing could ever happen here, in the United States. I broke down and cried because I was remembering seeing the film footage of people jumping to certain death rather than being incinerated in the fires that ensued and the eventuality of the Twin Towers falling to the ground like a Lego set. I got my composure and had my procedure and we went home. It was there that we found out our church, Church of our Saviour, was going to have a service of rememberance that night.
We went to church because it was meet and right to do. We all needed to ask God why he would let such a thing happen. It was to embrace loved ones. It was also to remember the importance that not even the act of terror that occurred would bring down the greatest nation in the world.
It was a scary time for the weeks after, but knowing that we would know it was al-Queda that committed the deed and that we were going after them made many of us feel somewhat better.
But I remember 9/11/01 like it was yesterday. It is a memory I shall never forget. It is why I have the photo above for we shall never forget.
God Bless America.