13 years ago, I was no longer a stranger in a country that I dreamed of visiting for pretty much all of my life, but after that day all I really wanted to do was go home. The dream had been spoiled. Mickey Mouse and Apple Pie was no more and the movie screen was dim and the Cowboys and Indians were riding off into the sunset for the last time. On September 11th 2001 reality had come home and I didn’t want any part of it.
I woke up early and unusually the radio was on the local Rock station, a bloody awful way to wake up ordinarily, but to hear a practical joke about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center in New York is just one sick joke too far. I woke Linda up and we went through and put the TV on and it wasn’t a joke, some idiot had flown a sodding big plane into the biggest skyscraper in New York… how could you miss an object that big?
IT HAPPENED AGAIN!
IT’S NOT A JOKE!
The world just fell away and my brain just starting screaming 1001 different things all at the same time, it hasn’t stopped since. We sank back into the sofa and just sat mesmerized by the images being beamed into our retinas from the TV screen.
Feelings didn’t really come into it at first for me; I didn’t know how this could happen. Once is crazy, twice is just incomprehensible and when it happens just feet away from each other it just screams of something out of this world. It’s like something I had listened to in an old radio play from the 40s, something a Science Fiction writer would dream up to scare the kids at bedtime, but now it’s happening in the new millennium.
THREE! AGAIN! HOW!
“I want to go home”
When the third plane hit the Pentagon I lost all kind of bearings, I just lost my head. To me, it was over. My will and resolution were gone. I turned to jelly, and I was so many miles away. I was living in a country under attack and I had no way out. I guess you could call me a coward, I certainly felt like one. I was truly scared.
Neither Linda nor I knew what to say, we garbled amazed mutterings throughout the day.
HOW MANY MORE!
We didn’t leave the apartment for days. Terror filled our souls. We hardly slept, we hardly ate. All we could do was sit and watch the news day in and day out. It was like the world stopped. It was like a ghost town around us. We saw the odd car on the streets but pretty much the streets were empty from morning to night.
After about 4 or 5 days we decided that we had to get out of the apartment and get fresh air. We decided on Jersey Mikes Sub Sandwiches for dinner. It was a joyless meal really, we bought the food and we took it home and we ate slowly, still watching the news. Once that we had broken the seal of actually getting out of the apartment and breaking that fear, we started to feel that we could beat it, and not be bowed by the fear.
The rescue efforts of the firefighters and police of New York City were more than heroic, they were Herculean. You saw Men and Women who had lost family and friends just hours and days before that wouldn’t stop digging. Flags would be raised every few yards and marks sprayed on blocks of broken concrete to signify the site of a found body. We saw that we HAD to carry on our lives, to carry on living our day to day, not to would mean we would have surrendered to some other force that wanted us cowed in our bunkers watching the news waiting for the next attack to happen.
It doesn’t matter how you feel about what came after the attack, what I believe you should keep in your heart today and then each day is the feeling that every day is a blessing that you have one more day to say:
“Hey, I’m alive and so are you, let’s try and do something good today. Let’s not let fear keep us inside, let’s go out for that sandwich”
Until next time…