I can't explain why this impacted me the way it did in those moments when I stood in our cafeteria where I worked and watched as the second plane struck the second tower of the World Trade Center. The collective gasp as we saw it happen, the horror and shock in the eyes of my co-workers. It couldn't be real, could it? Who would do this?
I don't think I'll ever forget the sound of the fighter jets that screamed over us on their way to Washington DC. They were the Boys From Syracuse, our fighter wing stationed at Hancock field. I was afraid, me- who grew up outside a SAC airforce base all her life. Radios were turned on at every desk, in the confusion we were told that Washington DC was under attack, that the Pentagon had been hit.
I saw the first tower come down and cried. I never saw the second one follow.
We had 14 employees that worked in the World Trade Center.
We were sent home, schools were dismissed and my son came home at the same time I did. There was such a profound silence I couldn't understand until days later when we were told that every commercial and private air plane had been grounded, flights arriving from overseas turned away, most going to Canada. There were always planes flying over my house. Not now. It was unprecendented.
I stared, numb, at our TV at the images of the chaos and destruction in Manhatten. They showed the Pentagon on fire. The news was confusing but word came there had been a fourth airliner heading for Washington DC but it went down somewhere in PA.
I didn't sleep that night. I remember thinking that the world as I knew it was forever changed.
I was numb and dazed for days. Couldn't focus at work, I'd suddenly find myself blinking and staring at my computer screen, realizing I had zoned out. It was months before I finally started to come around. I didn't lose anyone in those towers I knew. Nor in the Pentagon, yet somehow this hit me harder than anything else.
A lot of people don't know this fact, someday I may write about it- that the last soldier to leave Vietnam when we walked away and left the South Vietnamese to their own fate, died 9 years ago today. In the Pentagon. He survived a war to die on his own soil at the hands of terrorists. He was a Marine.
9/11 cemented my son's destiny. At 18, he joined the Army National Guard and trained to be a combat medic. I watched him go to war in Iraq four years ago, and cried almost every night. I was one of the lucky ones, my son came home from his tour a year later. So many of our sons and daughters, husbands and wives have not.
I've learned that it's easy to hate, to paint everyone, innocent and guilty, with the same brush. But the truth is- Islam didn't fly those planes into the towers. Islam didn slam one into the Pentegon. Terrorist did at the behest of a madman who is such a coward he hides.
I understand the pain is still raw, it is for me and I lost no one. But burning another country's bible- the Quran- is not the answer. It makes us no better than those terrorists who flew those planes. My son went to war to protect all our freedoms- including those of muslim americans who grieve with us.
I think it's time Sarah Palin stepped back and shut up. I think it's time the extremists in our government who claim to represent all of us, to knock it off and shut up too. Those who scream about freedom of religion and the right to bear arms- except for muslim americans. Just as those terrorists do not represent Isalm, Sarah Palin and other fanatics do not represent me and my country.
I think it's time the hate mongering stops and we rise above all of this. I think it's time we start picking up the pieces and instead of pointing fingers and acting like a bunch of narrow minded bigots with the mob mentality of sheep, that we become proud again without being bullies. Proud of our sons and daughters who want to fight for our country, volunteer to fight for our country, regardless of their race, religion or sexual orientation.
The damage done by these terrorists is still with us today. Burning a Quran justs proves them right and lets them win. Aren't we all better than this?