FORT WORTH, Tx. September 9, 2011 — The phone rang as I gave my seven month old daughter her morning breathing treatment. Re-arranging my squiggling baby I reached for the phone and said hello.
“They’re attacking us!” cried the voice of my sister Mary without preamble.
“Who is attacking us? What do you mean?” I said as I tried to make sense of what she was saying.
“Terrorists! It’s on TV! They blew up the World Trade Center! Go look! Turn it on!”
My son David was busy watching his morning cartoons. In the middle of the treatment, I couldn’t leave and go into another room to watch the news.
Putting down the receiver, I said, “David, I need to change the channel real quick.”
He didn’t protest. Maybe he sensed something in my voice.
Dread started to fill me. Somehow I expected this to eventually happen. After all didn’t most of us think terrorists were responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing? I believe we all expected it but hoped it would never happen. Now it had.
I turned to local Channel 8, WFAA. Good Morning America interrupted their normal programming to totally focus on the horror unfolding before a stunned nation. My eyes didn’t believe what they were seeing. My heart sank. An inferno raged from both towers. I couldn’t move.
My brain couldn’t comprehend what my heart knew. I couldn’t take it all in.
“Are you on a channel that’s showing it yet?”
“Huh? yeah. Oh my god! This is unbelievable. This can’t be happening. All those people!”
“I’ve got more calls to make. Just wanted to let you know. We’ll talk later.” Then Mary hung up.
David, who would be four that week asked what was going on. He had never seen me upset while watching TV and wondered if he needed to be scared as he took it all in. I tried to explain that bad people made those buildings blow up and now many, many people were dead and dying.
I had not consciously realized the violation of my sense of safety within my own country as yet.
The voices of those reporting the tragedy bespoke horror, amazement, surprise, and sorrow all-the-while trying to remain professional amid the chaos.
I began to notice my son was becoming over stimulated with all this going on. He is hyperactive and too much stimuli overwhelms him in a negative way. Breathing treatment done now, I put Rosie on the floor to play and reached for the remote.
All of a sudden the first tower seemed to melt as huge clouds of dust, debris, heat and smoke exploded over Manhattan.
David, Rosie and I froze. All hell broke loose on TV.
I changed the channel. I desperately wanted to watch the whole thing, but David couldn’t handle the impetus. Besides, I didn’t want to answer any more questions at that point. I had to get myself together, go over it in my heart and head, then decide how we’ll deal with it as far as he was concerned.
One thing I was sure of was that I was angry. There was no doubt as to who was responsible for these horrific atrocities. So I did the only thing I could do at that point; I went and got my American flag and hung it outside.
“So there!” I thought to myself as I stuck the pole in the holder attached to my house.
Take that!! How dare you attack my country! How dare you threaten my family, loved ones and fellow Americans!
I really, really wanted to punch something at that moment.
My husband Merwyn worked at Bell Helicopter Textron. When we talked, he told me about the sudden increase in security and the hubbub of activity that was going on.
One of my brothers works at Lockheed Martin. I imagined the hoops he was jumping through at that moment.
Once my children were down for their naps, I was finally able to watch more of the nightmare on TV. My heart broke for all the victims. For their families. It was a sad and somber day for those of us sitting on the sidelines.
Our flag stayed up for a long time. I bought red, white and blue ribbon, curled them with a scissor, and then tied them around the antennas on our cars. The ribbon stayed there until there was nothing left but the knot.
Even with the concern about more attacks after that day I wasn’t really worried about dying. North Central Texas would be more difficult to get to than places nearer the coast. But we do have Bell Helicopter, Lockheed Martin, and the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth. So I figured our area would probably be on someone’s hit list.
What could we do? Other than use a whole lot of common sense and keeping a level head there’s not much and I wasn’t going to let it ruin our lives.
How important is it to all of us? Those passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania found out. When hijackers told them they were in control, the passengers on board cried a resounding, “NO!”
In that instant they knew what their freedom was worth. Then they chose to die defending it. I could only hope I would act with such courage if I ever found myself in similar circumstances.
In honor of the tenth anniversary of 9/11 I ask each of you to take time to remember all those murdered that day by evil zealots who were not afraid to die for what they believe.
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