Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Mini-Rolling Thunder - 9/11/13

A small procession of bikes streamed by this morning.  I was surprised to hear them because I don't remember them from previous anniversaries of this date.  The pictures aren't clear because it's a hazy, hot day today.  Twelve years ago it was a sparkling-autumnal-gem-of-a-day.

On this day in 2001, I was home recovering from abdominal surgery the previous month.  Spouse worked noon til eight in those days, so was still home when the carnage began in New York.  Of course we had the TV on like the rest of the East Coast, trying to find out what was going on.  I phoned my sister in Illinois and was talking with her when the plane hit the Pentagon.  We heard and felt that.  I started shaking and blathering at that point.  Then hundreds of staff from the State Department (large prisonesque building in bottom photo) started walking and running away from the building.  When we heard a fourth plane was heading toward Washington, I nearly lost it.

Standing on our balcony, watching people fleeing for their lives, I wondered where we could go to be safe.  We live within blocks of important federal buildings and the White House, all of them potential targets.

A young woman who lived across the hall from us asked if she could hang out with us.  She was terrified, too.  Thankfully, she gave me someone else to focus on.  I gathered what wits I could and tried to comfort her.

The rest of the day is pretty much a blur of anxiety and stress.  It took hours in shock to truly embrace the fact that thousands of people died horrible deaths.  It would be days, months and years before victims' families and friends received confirmation of their losses due to the incredible scale of destruction.

For months, the skies were silent except for the fighter jets circling high above Washington day and night.  It was a comfort knowing they were watching out for us.  Still, I felt like I was waiting for "the other shoe to drop."  A little more than a year later, we were again terrorized by the so-called D.C. Snipers.

To this day, I say the 9/11 terrorists failed.  Yes, they caused immeasurable pain and damage, some of it long-term.  What they didn't anticipate was that their crimes would unite Americans and strengthen our resolve to support and defend our way of life.

New security measures are not convenient but have protected us from further attacks.

Now, if we can just regain our rights to privacy . . . .