I Do Remember…
By Beverly Hicks Burch
The ringing of the phone jolted me out of my sleep that morning at a little passed 8:00 AM CST. On the other end was an agitated and alarmed male voice admonishing me, “Momma quick, turn on the TV. The World Trade Towers have been attacked!!”
What?! How could this be? Surely I was having a hideous nightmare. “Son, what do you mean the Towers have been attack?!”
“Momma, quick…hurry, just turn on the news! It’s awful…we’re under attack!”
With a trembling hand, I reached out and grabbed the remote and clicked on the TV. Oh, dear God, he was right! How can this be possible?
As he began to fill in the details of the unfolding events I sat in the bed…my eyes transfixed on the TV screen…not wanting to watch, but knowing I had to watch. And, as I watched, my son began to spill out the horrific details of that fateful morning.
“Mom, we were all standing around getting ready to started the day (they had been in the ready room or command center room, whatever those military types call that kind of room…he was at the AL Air National Guard base at the time of the attack). Mom, we have the big screen TV on in the room (usually it was on news channels to monitor world situations). All of a sudden one of the guys hollered out one of the Trade Towers in New York had been hit by an airplane. I turned around to see what was going on just in time to see a second jet approach the other Tower and fly straight into it. Momma, this was a deliberate attack…we’re at war.”
Of course by then, as he gave me a blow by blow detailed account of the morning thus far, the major news outlets were looping over and over the scenes my son had witnessed just minutes before on TV. I sat there in stunned disbelief. I couldn’t possibly be seeing what I was seeing…yet, there it was…broadcasted around the world.
As that September morning continued to develop, God in heaven help us, what I saw next was even more horrifically unbelievable. At 8:59 AM CST one of the gleaming, steel and glass pinnacles of the New York financial district began to fall…it slid down upon itself amidst a gigantic column of dust, ash, debris, steel and glass and human life. The North Tower was gone! Oh, God no! My first thought was, “Oh dear, Lord, all of those people inside! Help them please!”
Of course this became more fodder for the news media grist mill and the collapsing building was added to the loop of the planes flying into the Towers. I sat there and held my breath…afraid that one little breath would surely place the last colossal, burning Tower in peril. I hoped and prayed this Tower would be spared and become a symbol of survival and reminder.
But, alas, like a womb twin, this solitary survivor seemed unable to stand alone without its twin. Suddenly at 9:28 AM CST pandemonium broke out…people were running away from the site like their lives depended on it…and they did.
Just like the first Tower, the second began to implode upon itself, collapsing downward in a single column of destruction only to become nothing more than part of the world’s largest junk heap. As it made its deliberate slide downward…all my memories fell with it. Like the earlier Twin, this one would also become the final resting place for many souls. Parts of Lower Manhattan lay in ruins…looking like a bonafide war zone…people, wounded and some miraculously unharmed, wandered the streets covered in a white powdery ash. Most were almost catatonic with disbelief.
Evil had not done enough to our country and our countrymen in New York City, the city that seems to never sleep… As the morning had continued to move forward in a surreal state more rumors started flying…and then were confirmed. Another rogue jet had hurled into the Pentagon in Washington DC at 8:37 AM CST.
News flashes advised us there was yet another suicidal controlled jet still in the skies above the USA. Reports hinted it was also aimed for Washington DC…possibly the White House or Capitol Building. For the first known time American military pilots were faced with shooting down a jet liner full of their own countrymen.
But the patriots on United 93 had surmised what was happening. Through cell phone calls with loved ones on the ground they had been told of the morning’s events. They vowed not to let their flight become another weapon of terrorism against their country and they took matters into their own hands and launched a counter-attack. They rushed the cockpit of their flight and at 9:06 AM CST United 93 slammed into a field outside of Shanksville, PA. They understood and epitomized “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 NASB
Our air transportation system was shut down and would remain so for months. Only military planes had clearance to fly the US skies.
At that point, I knew the world as we knew it had ended…
My heart broke and ached and I shed many tears that September morning seven years ago…
United States soil had been attacked by a terrorist group out to bring down the Great Satan (translate the USA). We would never be the same…as a nation and as a group of people. Our lives and way of living in the land of the free would change forever. We would have to become hyper vigilant…CAUTION: there’s an unattended bag or package…even an otherwise harmless looking child’s book bag would have to be viewed as a suspicious potential weapon.
How we travel across the USA would change, too. They took away our scissors (no more hand appliqué on long flights for me), our nail files, certain liquids and cosmetics (another big inconvenience for a Sjogren’s syndrome patients because we need to keep our throats, mouths and eyes moist). Airport security became a gigantic hassle adding long lines and insult to injury when we became forced to remove our shoes at the security checkpoint. Crazed terrorist had found a way to kill with shoes…
There would be no more flying the friendly skies…
For a time we pulled together and rallied as a country. 9/11 had become this generation’s Pearl Harbor. Songs were written and sung, American flags flew everywhere. Thousands of pictures of loved ones lost and missing were plastered everywhere, asking “Have you seen this person?” Compassion and concern could be seen once again on the faces of Americans in the street going about their daily business.
And, then as human nature is want to do, people began to forget. Just like the Israelites of the Old Testament…who began to forget…and grumble and complain. The Israelites had suffered slavery and oppression at the hands of the Pharaoh of Egypt for generations. They had cried out to God for deliverance…for freedom. The great I AM, Jehovah God sent then a deliverer in Moses…Pharaoh’s adopted son of all people! After battling the Pharaoh for the freedom of his people, with God’s help, Moses won their freedom. They must prepare and leave quickly for their exodus out of Egypt…thus, the history of Passover.
But, after fleeing Egypt and beginning the trek towards the Promised Land, attitudes and memories began to change. They were tired of pushing forward…and heaven forbid they were certainly tired of eating that manna from heaven! They began to gripe and complain, moan and groan. Surely, they said, their lives had been better in Egypt! Maybe they should return. They had forgotten! They forgot the oppression, the slavery and the whip of the taskmasters…just because they were a little inconvenienced. And, as a result, they lost their vision and wandered in the wilderness for 40 years…
Now, Americans have forgotten what was at the root of the 9/11 attacks and the war on terrorism…they forgot the almost 3,000 souls that where vaporized in places that should have been one of the safest places…their work place. They forgot the sights, the sounds and the smells…the sounds of hundreds of emergency homing units emitting a haunting, shrill wail, indicating the spot of a fallen emergency and rescue worker.
They forgot the images of panicked, frantic souls flinging themselves off the sides and out of windows of the Trade Towers. These poor souls were willing to take their chance with a fall…or face a known end and breath precious air to the very last…rather than face the ungodly inferno behind them that was smothering them with super heated air, singeing their throats and lungs.
Many Americans have forgotten the falling debris that showered down of the streets below…papers from offices in the Trade Towers, building materials and office equipment and they have forgotten the waves of white hot clouds of ash roiling down the streets of Manhattan seeking to engulf, consume and suffocate the very air from all left standing.
We have fallen back on the old political hack of political correctness…afraid to breath wrong least we offend. How dare we consider what some call “racial profiling”? After all, there could be an 85 year old Caucasian granny hijacker willing to fling her life away and commit terrorism. I mean, come on, after all what does she stand to loose but a set of dentures! How utterly, insanely ridiculous!! Why is it wrong to investigate people of certain groups who harbor known hatred for the US and avow to destroy the US and its people? They have made it their life work…their mission in life. You can not negotiate with blind hatred…
Some delusional souls would have us think a conspiracy theory that claims our own government set up and perpetrated the attack. Just the logistics of such a conspiracy would be mind boggling and involve thousands of co-conspirators and take years to plan. It is illogical and grasping. Sad, desperate, sick people will seek attention any way they can…this is the lowest of low…
2001 was a bad year for me. I had been the victim of a form of personal terrorism and betrayal from someone I had trusted the most. I was gravely sick much of that summer, even having to be taken to the ER the weekend before 9/11. My windshield was smashed sitting in my driveway. A tornado hit and damaged the house, the air condition unit flooded downstairs, and even though he hadn’t lived there in months and did nothing to help restore the house, the ex, Gomez the unremarkable demanded half of the insurance money. What a Prince!
And, then 9/11 happened…
As I watched the news coverage that morning waves of grief swelled over me that were devastating. When I saw the Towers fall I remember thinking, “I’ve been there. I stood under their shadows. I stood at the top of one Tower and breathed in the magnificent panoramic view of New York and the surrounding area. Oh my God, never again, never again…how could this happen?”
An unbelievable seven years have passed since 9/11/2001. My world has changed in more ways than I could imagine. My son, my only child was deployed and activated the day of 9/11. His unit flew refueling runs between Alabama and the northeast. They refueled military jets that were patrolling the skies of the US during those dark days, keeping us safe. On one run just hours after the attacks, he literally saw the Pentagon burning from the air. He was later deployed to the Middle East several times with his unit where once again he flew refueling runs. (He had been a boom operator in the AL ANG.)
My life moved forward. I met and married a white knight…my Tall & Handsome who has offered me love, acceptance, support and encouragement over the last few years.
They say time heals all wounds. Well, I don’t know that I can agree with that, but I can say this…time does cause wounds to scar over and protect the wound. But, on occasion that wound can be pricked at and reinjured. The one thing time should not do is give us amnesia and cause us to forget. People that forget are doomed to repeat history and mistakes over and over again…
Never forget…never forget…never forget…
The Hicks Girls in New York - Nov 1983
© 2008 Beverly Hicks Burch All rights reserved.