Sitting at my desk at another plant on assignment five years ago, I was finishing up some report when someone came in the office and announced that a plane had hit one of the World Trade Center buildings. I really didn’t think much of it at the time, and thought that some joy riding pilot in a Cessna got too close to one of the buildings, got caught in an updraft, and slammed into the building.
I finished up the report, and went out on the floor to check on the project’s progress, and I happened to see one of the TVs the company had set up for internal communications. Someone had put the feed from one of the national networks on the network, and I saw the WTC burning. I was stunned for two reasons – the first was that it was such a clear day, so how could someone accidentally hit one of the buildings. The second was that I just couldn’t understand how a small plane could cause so much damage. That’s when I saw the second plane hit…
Dumbfounded, I suddenly realized that the first plane was not a Cessna or other small plane, but a full-sized, passenger-carrying jet. I next understood that this was deliberate, because there was absolutely no way that two planes could hit the WTC buildings on the same clear day. Then there was the overwhelming sense of sadness, grief, hopelessness as the dawning of a new thought came to mind…
Terrorism, unlike anything that we have ever known, had come to America.
I watched, horrified along with the rest of the country, as the towers came down mere minutes from each other. I couldn’t understand that at the time – this was the last thing that I had expected. I had known that the Empire State Building had been struck by a B-25 bomber and had survived with minimal damage – why not a modern building? But that was not the case here – too big, too much fuel, too much heat – and the towers collapsed. And I wept openly as I watched the plumes of dust rise over the island of Manhattan.
Later, the news of the Pentagon being hit and the plane going down in Pennsylvania came across the news, but everyone was in shock. Who could have done this, and why? Questions abounded, and answers were few in coming. Wild speculation and rumors ran through the plant unchecked. And everyone was afraid…
Where was the next attack going to happen, and when? Everyone struggled to make sense of the madhouse that the country had become. Nothing was the same, nor would it ever be again. And the skies went silent except for the roar of fighter jets on patrol.
I feared for the future of the country, and of that of my son’s. What kind of a world was he going to grow up in? How much different was his childhood and adult life going to be than mine? The future had suddenly become so very uncertain and frightening for all of us.
The American people are now at war, not with a nation, but with an ideology that hates this country and all of it’s citizens. These people live, think, sleep, and eat with the thought of killing us and destroying this country that we live in simply because they do not like us for the freedoms we enjoy (especially the one about freedom to worship). And their reward for doing so is their version of heaven. And knowing all of this, there are those who still believe that these fanatics can be negotiated with.
In the past five years, we observed the political parties pull together like most of us had never known before, only to watch political sniping and power plays take the place of securing this country from foreign terrorists once & for all. The planes are flying again, but at great inconvenience to all. Terrorist attacks have taken place and were prevented around the world, but we all know it’s a matter of time before another attack happens here.
What does the future hold? That is unknown to all except the Creator. But I am hopeful, both in this country and my fellow Americans. We have proven in the past that we are a resilient people, able to rise and meet any challenge before us. I can only pray that this will be the case as our new enemy is as patient, cunning, and vicious as any beast of the field. And we must remember that as we observe this most solemn day.