There have been several historical days throughout my life that I will always remember.
November 22, 1963. It was a Friday. I was eight years old and in third grade. I remember the look on my teacher's face as she entered the class room to tell us that President Kennedy had been shot. I was crushed. My little heart broke. I sobbed. I still remember it.....like it was yesterday. My teacher picking me up to quiet and comfort me. I also remember watching the funeral on TV.
I rejoiced and beamed with pride the day we landed on the moon. It was not just a few men who went into space. It was an entire nation who joined Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin as they stepped off Apollo 11 after the eagle had landed. Neil Armstrong spoke these famous words: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
The 1972 summer Olympic games was my first encounter with terrorism. You can read about what became known as the Munich Massacre here.
23 October 83....I'll remember them all. Terrorists struck the marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon with two truck bombs. There were 241 marines, sailors, and soldiers killed. Please read this article which ran in the New York Times.
But to me, the biggest tragedy of all was the day America was attacked by al-Qaeda. Hijackers intentionally crashed these two airplanes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Within two hours, both towers collapsed. Hijackers crashed a third plane into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. A fourth jet, United Airlines Flight 93, crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania before it could reach its intended target in Washington, D.C. after the passengers attempted to take control. Nearly 3,000 died in the attacks.
The day was Tuesday. I was already at work. My phone rang. A friend called to ask if I'd heard that a plane had flown into the WTC. I thought he was joking. Making up a story. So, while he was on the phone, I looked up news on the internet. It was real. I watched the footage. I couldn't believe it. It was horrific. Indescribable. I sobbed.
It is ten years later. I still cannot watch footage of that day without crying, For the heroes who died trying to save others. For the people who went to work on an ordinary day never to return home. For the families left behind.
If you ask someone where they were on that day, their response would not be "I don't really know" or "I'm not sure." People know exactly where they were and what they were doing. What about you? Where were you? What were you doing? How did you and your family handle this tragedy?
This song by Alan Jackson put to a photo essay says it all:
God bless America.
Peace and Joy,