As I've been thinking the last few days, I thought
it important to post an article on the situation at hand. Not necessarily
a teaching or preaching article, or an answer filled coping article,
but if anything just a way for me to express the many thoughts that
have been going through my head, and perhaps to help anyone reading
it with their own thoughts. You will notice this being mainly a
compilation of my observations and emotions of the last 48 hours.
Tuesday morning I was in to work a little after
9. All seemed to be moving towards a normal day. I was getting some
things in order at the church; organizing some deliveries I had
received the last day or two. I was on my way back in to my office,
and the secretary opened up her door and said, "Two planes
just crashed in to the Empire State Building." She had said
that our most distinguished gentleman in the church had just called
with the news. She was obviously flustered as she spoke. I was immediately
thankful that my parents were out of the country.
"What? That's crazy," I thought. "How
could that have happened? What kind of planes were they? The Empire
State Building. Oh my Gosh," I continued in to my office. At
first it didn't seem like much, but the thoughts began swamping
"My Dad used to work in the Empire State Building. My dad still
knows people who do. Where my dad works now is really not all that
far away from there. His office can't be in good shape. Oh my gosh,
I have to go!"
I left my office and told the secretary I was
going to my parent's house (much closer to church than mine) and
I needed to try to get in touch with them. I obviously also wanted
to watch the news and get updated on what exactly the situation
I arrived at my parent's house and immediately
turned on the TV to see the twin towers engulfed in smoke. Though
my heart ached for the tragedy of those in southern Manhattan, I
was relieved to see that my dad would not be immediately affected
by those he knew, or his colleagues still in the country and at
work. Though all of Manhattan was affected, the WTC are quite a
ways south of the area my Dad works in. Once I worked all that out,
I came back to a somber state and one of disbelief as I continued
to watch the buildings burn. I sat in awe as they began to reply
footage of the second airliner strike the second tower. I couldn't
believe that such symbols of NY that I was so familiar with and
viewed so many times, even visiting the observation deck within
the last several years, had been struck and crippled in such a way.
In the midst of all of this, news broke that the pentagon had in
some way been attacked, and this is when I began to feel we were
clearly in trouble and being attacked by some entity of people who
had taken great time in planning in all of this. We were all in
for a major change in the life we have become so comfortable with.
Not that I was in disbelief enough, as reporters
gabbed on about some aspect of these events, I watched before my
very eyes, on live TV, one of the largest towers on the planet crumble
to the ground. Not believing it took the reporters 30 seconds to
even notice this and say something about it, I began to try to contact
my parents, on business in Italy. I dialed the number they gave
me for the office, and they directed me to their hotel. I called
the hotel and they told me that those guests checked out earlier
in the day.
"Ok, well I have no way to get in touch with my parents,"
I thought in a frustrated manner. I knew they were on their way
to Venice, but they left no number for me to reach them in Venice.
I attempted to call my fathers office in Manhattan, only to hear,
"all circuits are busy, try your call again later." That
was about the end of phone success. About 75% of all calls I tried
to make within 35 miles of the city, or internationally didn't go
through properly. I got either the beeping tone that means "clearly
you've done something wrong," or a message that said all international
circuits were busy. Something I had never quite experienced before.
As the list of new experiences grew, the second
World Trade Tower lost its battle to fire and damage. As I watched,
the enormous white tower on top lost altitude quickly yet almost
majestically into the very structure that had supported it all these
years, and at that point I could not believe I was alive and witnessing
such an unimaginable event.
The World Trade Towers are no longer standing.
They are no longer visible for miles around. The next time I see
the city from a distance the Empire State Building will be the lone
watchman of Manhattan. That in itself is something major for anyone
to come to terms with. The replay of major jet airliners violently
disappearing into the buildings, exiting them as a ball of flames
and clouds of smoke is something that is quite overwhelming to see
without our minds telling us, "what a stupid affect. Couldn't
the special effects designers have made it any more realistic than
that?" And indeed on this day, someone had.
Planes flying into buildings is nearly unfathomable.
And yet, it is an image that is suddenly in our faces. It is something
the world must now deal with. There is a younger generation in America,
myself included, who have never dealt with national crisis before.
Hardly any large-scale crisis before. My dad brought up an interesting
point that I had never been through a crisis such as this before.
All generations have dealt with something like this, and for mine,
this is the first one. All alive before us have dealt with some
combination of world wars and Pearl Harbor, the depression, Vietnam,
and JFK or King Junior's assassination. All of these things HUGELY
affected the nation and the world. Since many of our births, we
have indeed been affected by things like the Challenger explosion,
the Tianmen Square tragedy in China, the Gulf war and the Oklahoma
City Bombing. None, however having been anywhere near the magnitude
of what we have been victim of this week. Due to simply the fact
that it has created situations that have never taken place before.
One example of this is the shut down of all
airports in the entire country. This means that for a better part
of 2-3 days, there was not one plane in the sky anywhere in the
USA that wasn't official government or military related in the areas
of the tragedy. This has never happened in the history of flight!
I looked up at the sky numerous times Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday
to see no exhaust trails of airliners. I sat out on my porch Tuesday
night and gazed up at the stars, not to be interrupted by the flashing
white and red lights of a plane flying overhead. This very occurrence
fascinates me because it is something that has never before happened,
and may never happen again. Any time something meets this criteria,
it is something that is of huge affect, almost impossible to fully
Though this seems somewhat of a trivial observation,
it is history, and thus important. I was obviously affected emotionally
quite a bit on several occasions. How could one sit and watch live
the unraveling of life as they now it and not be overcome with emotion.
Tears welled up in my eyes several times Tuesday morning while watching
news coverage. As I drove around town the first time, I noticed
a flag flying at half-mast already indicating great loss to our
country. The site of this brought tears to my eyes. Reports on TV
and in newspapers of foreign countries reaching out to us by expressing
condolences and displaying grief have affected me emotionally. They
have triggered tears as well. In the past days, I have heard on
the radio many "uniting" songs rekindled by this episode.
"We are the World," and "Proud to be an American,"
to name a few. Not that these brought tears, in fact almost an opposite
affect, as they just brought back sensory memories of when they
were on the radio originally, and obviously create some interesting
This is my story of the 24 hours that changed
America, meager as it may be compared to the thousands who were
directly affected by this catastrophe.
Most of us now sit and await news of how our
country will react, or fear what could happen next. I'm also amazed
that on at least the major networks, there has been no regular programming
for some 50+ hours now. Half of me says, "how much news of
this can I watch?" But the other half doesn't want to leave
the TV set.
Some of you may or may not have felt some of
the same ways I do. Some of you may feel worse. I understand there
are situations that could affect your emotions either way. One being
you were in school while all of this was taking place. I believe
that seeing it all live could be more emotional than hearing about
it all day and just seeing highlights afterwards. Perhaps you have
no one near either city and are far away yourself, so you feel unaffected
by it. These are honest, credible situations. However, I plead with
you all to be aware of and try to understand this most significant
event in our nations history, and feel for those who are affected
by it. Take some time to realize our fortune of freedom, and the
life style we are blessed with in this country. While realizing
it, take time to appreciate every ounce of it, and understand how
fragile and precious it really is. Also realize that in some way,
ALL of our lives will change from this sad, sad week in history.