Sunday, September 11, 2011

Never Forgetting

from: New York, NY, USA
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It was a Tuesday like any other. I had just gone on Terminal Leave from 6 years in the Navy - I was technically still in the military, but about 3 weeks before, I'd taken my first and only helicopter flight off the Bataan (LHD-5) to get on my way back home to Northwest Indiana. I had a total of 6 weeks of Leave stocked up, and I was ready for some major decompression before getting into a new job. I'd spent the past 3 weeks having some fun, and that morning was in my room, doing some writing when, at 9:00, I received a phone call from my Aunt Kitty.

2000

"Are you watching TV?" she asked.

Both buildings struck

"Naw, I pretty much lost interest in it while I was in the Navy," I answered, thinking maybe she was going to ask me to spend the day with her.

"Turn it on. Any channel."

I came out to the living room and hunted for the remote. It occurred to me she wouldn't ask me to do something like that unless something was happening, but I was expecting maybe a Presidential address or something. I had no way to prepare myself for what I saw.

What I saw when I turned on the TV

The first image was a medium-shot of the twin towers, with smoke billowing out of one of them. The other was obscured by smoke or the angle. It took a moment before I realized what the news was saying, that someone had crashed a jet liner into the building. Both, in fact. And as the coverage continued, something else finally made its way into my shocked brain: the other tower wasn't obscured. It was gone.

I watched, unable to tear my eyes away. Unable to stop hoping that some of those people would be all right. I saw something fall off the building, and the newsman said it was a jumper. He said it was ANOTHER jumper. Several people had already jumped.

Immediately after second collapse

Then the unthinkable happened. The second tower started collapsing. I couldn't believe it. The other building had been hit much lower; that it fell was less of a surprise, but this one had been hit toward the top. Only a few floors should have been lost. But no, the whole thing collapsed like a house of cards. I couldn't believe it.

Two days to see the result

I don't remember how or when my phone call ended. Did we talk? Did she just hang up right away to call someone else? I don't remember. All I know is that horrible feeling of dread as they kept showing over and over the impact of the second plane, and the collapse of each tower. I remember being too overwhelmed to feel anything about the Pentagon, or the flight in Pennsylvania destined for the White House. I do remember those brave souls who decided to take back their airplane, who refused to let the terrorists accomplish their mission.

Recovering the flag

I also remember the attitude we had following that day. Before that point, in any TV show or movie, when someone gets taken hostage, they're almost always paralyzed with fear. They'd rather hang on to the microscopic hope that they would be all right, that someone would save them or that the bad guys would have enough honor to let them go. But after that point, it was like Americans realized for themselves that letting ANYONE take them hostage WAS a death sentence. How can you trust that someone who is willing to kill you WON'T kill you when he no longer needs you alive? How can you trust that your death at his hands isn't what he's planning all along, and that he'd just using you as a shield so he can kill more than just you?

Symbolic return

Before 9/11, there were a scant handful of movies which depicted hostage takers giving the police a horrible choice: kill a bus/plane load of hostages, or wait until the terrorists drove/flew their vehicle someplace to kill even more people.

2006

For a few years after 9/11, it looked like America was going to get serious on terror. Like we were going to kick the ass of ANYONE who tried to hold a gun on us. There is NO guarantee that someone demonstrating his willingness to shoot you WON'T shoot you. Better to deny him whatever he wants; you're going to die anyway. Even if he doesn't kill you, you're going to die anyway, so why help him kill others? It seemed like Americans felt that way, and they'd do what it took to rid the world of the scourge of terrorism.

2011

It seemed like they weren't afraid, that they'd accepted that someone could intrude on their lives at any moment with a gun or a bomb or an envelop of anthrax. They could die at any moment, and so they need not worry about it. They would just live their lives, and if death should come knocking, they would defiantly go down swinging and try to take their killer with them.

2011

Today, 10 years later, America has a Holy Site, no less important to us than the Great Mosque in Mecca, the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, Lord Ram's birthplace in Ayodhya, or Vatican City in Rome. And today, right about now, it's being commemorated and the museum is opening. The Twin Towers site is receiving an overhaul, complete with new skyscrapers, and today the Freedom Tower has reached a height of 1000 feet out of the total, planned to be 1776 feet. The Freedom Tower is expected to be complete in 2013, and the other structures in the following years, while the museum and park are open now.

2020

I wish I could be in New York City today.


Timeline of 9/11 attacks.
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4 comments:

  1. These photos still blow my mind. Thanks for sharing, Jaycee.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You're welcome, Jeff. Glad to be of service.

    Technically, I was still in the Navy when this happened. I kept expecting them to call me up and tell me to come back. I repacked a bag just in case.

    But the call never came. I learned a few days later that anyone whose service ended before October 1 would not be called back, and mine ended the 25th of September.

    My ship, the Bataan (LHD-5) was already planning to go out that way for their Med Cruise. They left a week earlier than planned, having to call back a lot of people who had just left for pre-cruise leave. Then they sat off the coast of Pakistan for 5 and a half months straight. No port calls.

    At least they could have a steel beach party once in a while. Those guys on the smaller ships didn't even have that. They also had three beer days in a row. normally you don't get to drink alcohol when you're out at sea, but if you're out for 45 days in a row, you get a beer. They were out for long enough to get 3.

    It was pretty tough for them. They didn't get to do all the fun stuff I got to do on our previous Med Cruise. A hell of a thing they did.

    Anyone who insults members of the military has NEVER IN THEIR LIVES done something for someone else, let alone laid their lives on the line for ungrateful idiots. There aren't a lot of things that get me hopping mad, but seeing those asshats who disrupt military funerals is one of them. Hell is too good for people like that, but I sure wish we were allowed to send them there anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I certainly remember where I was on 911. I was sitting at my desk, at work, helping a customer. The customer began telling me what she was viewing on her television. It took a few moments to comprehend what she was telling me. I couldn't believe what she was telling me. It was difficult to understand that an attack was being made on buildings in New York city, in and on America. I finished my conversation with her as soon as I could, left my desk, and called my son, thank you, God for cell phones, who was supposed to be finishing his tour with the Navy. When he answered the phone he said, "I wondered how long it would take you to call me." Of course I wanted to know where he was and if he would be on the Bataan instead of discharging from the Navy. He was calm and reassured me that he would still be discharged as scheduled. Then I called my other son, in the Air National Guard, to see where he was.

    Recently, I had the priveledge to stand road-side as a funeral procession, lead by motorcycle police and Patriot Guard Riders esscorted a fallen soldier to his final earthly resting place. Tears still fill my eyes thinking of his sacrifice, may we in some way be worthy, and for his mother and family and loved ones. Thank you, men and women of our United States military. God bless you and you families and loved ones; come home soon.

    Thank you, dear Heavenly Father, for the two men in my life, that love You, their families and their country.

    ReplyDelete
  4. As the 11th anniversary of this tragedy nears, I see this page is becoming popular again. For those of you wishing to know the current state of the structure, here is a link to a page about it:

    http://www.gregallegretti.com/supertall/

    The page also has a few bits about other tall structures around the world, including one funded by the binladen family.

    ReplyDelete

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