Saturday, September 10, 2011

What I Remember About 9/11

- The weather was beautiful. And we were so grateful, because we could send the kids outside to play and not worry about them over-hearing what was going on.

- The skies were quiet. The streets were quiet (which is nearly miraculous in New Jersey). It was like the whole world had gasped in horror and hadn't let their breath out yet.

- Flags suddenly popped up everywhere. On lawns and cars, in particular.

- Churches were all open in the evenings for special prayer services -- and everyone went.

- At my daughter's elementary school, many kids had parents who worked in downtown Manhattan. Apparently, the school office got calls all day from parents saying, "Please tell my child that I'm alright." And the school told them, "We can't. We can't tell your child that his father is alright if we can't tell the child next to him that his father is alright. The kids know nothing."

- A friend of mine had one grand-daughter at college near the Twin Towers and another at college near the Pentagon. The family lost contact with both of them for several hours after the attack. Later, she printed up the series of panicked emails floating around among family members trying to hear some word from them, concluding with the news of their safety. She was a Creative Memories consultant like me. She put the printout in a scrapbook, of course.

- A friend in Wichita called that morning to tell me that our friend Scott had died a couple nights before. His funeral was a couple days later, and his brother had to drive across the country to get there because all the airplanes were grounded.

- At another elementary school in the area, the principal reportedly defied the ultra-secular culture in New Jersey and, after the morning announcements, invited the student body to pray with him for the country.

- The Sunday edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer had a several-page special section full of nothing but reader-submitted photos of the Twin Towers. I heard somewhere that 80% of New Jerseyans knew somebody who had been in the Towers during the attack; 50% knew somebody who died there.

- I looked at my daughters at one point in the days that followed and ached for them, because I thought, the country they will grow up in will be so different than the one I did. At that moment, it seemed like nothing could ever really be the same again.

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