Monday, September 11, 2006

"We're at War"

All day I've been remembering what my life was like one day, exactly 5 years ago. On September 11, 2001, I remember how I heard. I remember watching the events unfold, grasping the big picture: my country has been attacked. The reality of the cost to those people in the planes, in the towers, in the pentagon, and their families, took a little longer to sink into my young mind:

Five years ago this morning I woke up and crawled out of bed. I was homeschooled, so the morning was casual. As soon as I got to the school room, Mom was up, which was normal. On a normal school morning she would be grading papers before we started school. The TV was on this morning, though, and she was riveted. In a groggy voice, I’m sure I asked what was going on. Of course she didn’t know a lot. She replied in a shaky voice that a plane, they thought, had hit a big building in New York.

We watched the television coverage, video after live video of the smoking building. Witnesses started calling into the major news stations trying to report what they thought they’d seen. Anchors worried about field correspondents who were missing. With the cell phone overload happening then, it is no wonder the reporters couldn’t contact their news desks. Right before our eyes, while still spinning with the panic on the air, another plane flew into Tower 1. My first reaction was that they had found footage of what happened. But both towers were visible, and both were smoking now. Anchors were trying to describe, trying to make sense, trying to remain calm.

Calm was not something I wanted to be. I didn’t want anyone in charge to be calm either. We were at war, obviously. That was my reaction. Terrorists had hit our country, and we were at war. What would that mean? Would it be like Israel, everyday wondering if a suicide bomber would pick our favorite restaurant to blow up.

As the next few days progressed, the reality didn’t affect my sheltered world too much. The news was on every night, showing the rubble. We learned about the “Let’s Roll” plane in Pennsylvania, and I worried about a friend who lived there. There was the Pentagon attack, too, which I was sorry got so little coverage. And everyone was flying their flags. No one was fighting amongst themselves. That stood out.

When it came out, I read Lisa Beamer’s biography of her husband, and that was the first time I cried. I didn’t know anyone in New York or Washington D.C. so it was hard for the reality to sink in. Recently I cried again when I finally heard the 911 recordings that were released. Sean Hannity played them in a montage on the radio. Those cries, the helplessness of the 911 operators, and the knowledge that the result was so many of those people dying, finally hit home.

The final vivid memory I have of the whole event was President Bush giving the State of the Union address. “We have seen the state of our union, and it is STRONG,” he said. It was true. It still is.

To God be all glory.

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