On September 11, 2001, at 8:46 a.m., our world was changed forever. Nobody will forget that day in history. Those moments in time still affect this country today. Now, 10 years later, men and women are still serving in some of the most dangerous areas in the world, while others are coping with memories and changes.
This particular Tuesday began just as most other weekdays would, with the hustle and bustle of a busy household filled with children trying to get ready for school. I had long anticipated this day because my husband and I would finally have a few days off together and we had already planned the details of just how we would spend it. Nevertheless, this day would be like no other. We would never have the opportunity to enjoy it.
As I turned on the CBS Morning News, I was just in time to observe the smoke-filled impact of the first plane’s entry into the World Trade Center’s Tower One. As Bryant Gumbel spoke, implying upon a logical explanation, such as an accident, my gut feeling was already a hundred miles ahead of him, thinking that something far worse and calculating had just taken place, right before our very eyes.
Since working at Southwest Airlines, our staff was always keenly aware of the possibility of potential threats with our aircraft; there was always much hesitation when a sudden announcement would come over the overhead speaker to “put our passengers on hold,” and we were also retrained annually for all types of emergencies. Therefore, I knew the seriousness of this developing picture and was quite concerned that it might have been one of our aircraft.
As the second plane impacted Tower Two, Gumbel, myself and all of the world then realized what we never would believe could happen, and that was America was being attacked on its own soil. From this day forth, life really would never be the same, as we saw the disturbing images of people jumping from windows to a most assured death, the cries of grieving family members searching for loved ones, and the frightening pictures of the collapse of the World Trade Center, which once gracefully adorned the New York skyline.
For about a week, we stayed very busy at work, at times sleeping there and getting all of the overtime we wanted. As the Federal Aviation Administration continued to ground our planes for days, we continuously rebooked our stranded passengers day after day, until we finally received clearance to fly again.
For once, America forgot party lines, as we all rallied behind our seemingly fearless leader, then President George W. Bush, in a mutual camaraderie of spirit that we were all the same. For once, there were no Democrats or Republicans, no blacks, whites, or other races to divide us… I do not even believe there was much crime committed during these times. We were all just Americans… ones who bled the exact same color… red, white, and blue.
Today, as we mark the tenth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, let us not forget the many lives impacted all for the ridiculous sake of some terrorist cause. Let us not forget the great solidarity that we all once stood in as we supported Bush, when he vowed to go after whoever had committed these atrocious crimes against us. For everything that now plagues this great country, let us not forget that we all, for one, are Americans and should never let anything stand in our way of being who we are… united.