"Ours is the only country deliberately founded on a good idea."--John Gunther, journalist (1901-70)
Though my family and I were not directly affected by the terrorist attacks of 9-11-01, as a lifelong resident of the tri-state metropolitan New York City area, I can't help even seven years on from that incomprehensibly tragic day from learning how it changed things forever for so many of my neighbors and, of course, for every American and, for that matter, every person of goodwill everywhere.
I was on vacation with my family on that infamous day. I was drinking a cup of coffee and watching the Today show on NBC when they reported an airplane had struck the World Trade Center and cut to a live feed of the Twin Towers. I am sure that many others watching TV that morning had the same reaction I did-- it must have been a Cessna or other small plane that accidentally hit the building. With that thought, odd as it was, still rolling around in my head, the second plane-- clearly an airliner-- executed a sweeping turn before the eyes of millions and flew right into the other tower.
Reeling from that image, we didn't know what to do other than to gather up our then pre-school age kids and hit the road. We drove around aimlessly and soon learned from the car radio that another plane had crashed-- right into the ground-- in the same state we were in, Pennsylvania.
We kept the radio on and turned the TV on when we could but nothing we heard made any sense of it at all. Two days later, we drove home to Connecticut and when we reached the stretch of the New Jersey Tunrpike (I-95) northbound that usually provides stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, we were shocked and shaken to see a massive plume of smoke rising up from where the towers had once so proudly stood.
Seven years later, those memories have not dimmed. I can't even imagine how vivid and painful they must be for those who lost loved ones so suddenly and so pointlessly that day. As so many in the media have put it, all the 9/11 victims-- in Manhattan, at the Pentagon or onboard the hijacked planes-- did was board a flight or, even more mundane, just showed up for work.
I could tell you the stories of acquintances of mine who lost family members that day or relate what happened to friends who were caught in the immediate aftermath on the streets of New York . But I feel to do so in this space without their permission would not be right.
Words can do so little but in honor of the 2,973 lives known to have been lost on 9-11-01, please consider these uplifting lines from Shakespeare...
When he shall die, Take him and cut him out in little stars, And he will make the face of heaven so fine That all the world will be in love with night, And pay no worship to the garish sun.
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night,
And pay no worship to the garish sun.