santa cruz wharf

10 September 2007

Heads or Tails ~ 11 September 2001

When I think of 11 September 2001, and the word "tail"…my mind leaps immediately to the word "tailspin". And then I remember the movie, “United 93” (not “Flight 93” which is a different film) If you have not seen it…I recommend you do.

A significant number of the actual airtraffic controllers, military, and FAA employees play themselves in this movie. It has very little conjecture, and depicts the realtime course of events from the time United flight 93 pulled away from the gate until the time it crashed. On the DVD there are interviews with many of the surviving families of the passengers on that flight. The scenes of them meeting the actors and actresses who portrayed their loved ones are intense.

Warning:
This account that follows is my recollection of where I was the morning of 11 September 2001. After rereading I realize it is sorta more for me and mine, and less for you my gentle readers..or you who are my not-so-gentle readers. It’s a self serving little trip down memory lane…with the exception of this:

All kidding aside. It has only been six years. Don’t forget what happened. The terrorists attacked us…you and me. It was a test. Don’t become overly complacent and allow yourself the warm cuddly safe assumption it is over. 11 September 2001 was merely a warning shot across the bow. They are not finished with their quest to take away our freedom and destroy the United States.

11 September 2001, Santa Cruz, California.
I was in bed. Asleep.
The telephone rang just before 6 o’clock in the morning.
Never a good sign.

The caller ID warned me it was my Mama.
I sat straight up…immediately wide awake…it had to be bad. She loves me too much (knows my temper too well) to call that early without a really good reason. My Gramma had died a few months before and my Grampa was devastated. He had just left California to go home to Indiana and I was SURE something had happened to him.

“are you up? turn on the television right now…the news”

I reached for the remote from my nightstand…and clicked on ABC. Damn. I asked her what happened while increasing the volume. Nobody knew anything at that point. I switched to CNN…I’m a news junkie and trust that even if they are biased CNN would have people on the scene. They had film…they reported it was a plane…but didn’t know what was going on yet. They first thought is was a small plane...which I knew was impossible. A small plane would crumple and do only a portion of that damage.

My daughter stumbled into my room scowling. It was the summer just before her third year at UC Davis and she was not pleased the ringing phone had woken her up…but she had heard my voice and came in to see what was going on. She climbed into bed asking questions. With my Mama on the phone and my daughter next to me we watched the second plane fly directly into the south tower.

I remember freezing and then swearing. One plane...accidental. Two planes...intentional. I assumed at that time it was foreign aircraft. It did not occur to me it would be ours. I handed the telephone to my daughter and jumped out of bed to get my laptop. Back on the bed I logged on, firing questions at my Mother. What had they said before?? She hung up to call other family members. I got onto the CNN site…and stayed on all day.

Phone calls flying between family and close friends. I switched back and forth between news channels. I was making coffee when the plane hit the Pentagon, Rhiannon and I went silent and looked at each other with tears. Jimmy? His offices were at the Pentagon. Where were Mel and Jamie? My cousin and his wife are F-18 Navy combat pilots on active duty. We watched the south tower fall with more horror than when the planes hit. The news reported evacuations and possible target locations. Annapolis was mentioned. My daughter raced to get her cell phone. Her highschool sweetheart Eric was at Annapolis. By the time the second tower fell we knew our nation was under attack…and wondered what would be next.

In the days following we watched the horror that had hit New York and Washington. The families of the passengers and crew on the planes, and those killed at the World Trade Center. I remember walls covered in pictures as so many searched for their loved ones.

I flew on 22 September to a friend's wedding reception in Chicago. I had been the maid of honor a few months before. It took four hours from arriving at San Jose International just to get to the ticket counter. Fellow passengers eyed each other with suspicion…especially if there was any hint of middle-eastern heritage. Military guards with rifles patrolled everywhere. On the return I had to wait six hours at the gate in O’Hare. That was after a very young man went thru every single item in my checked baggage. The bartender had a contest to see who could get the most juice out of a lime. All of his bar tools had been confiscated…but they still delivered the fruit. He also had us compete to open wine bottles (no sharp pointy cork screws) but most of us were from California and learned that in high school.

All kidding aside. It has only been six years. Don’t forget what happened. The terrorists attacked us…you and me. It was a test. Don’t become overly complacent and allow yourself the warm cuddly safe assumption it is over. 11 September 2001 was merely a warning shot across the bow. They are not finished with their quest to take away our freedom and destroy the United States.

I think I’m gonna go play a little Toby Keith.

Miz Skit (aka Barb at Skittles Place) has gotten her tail in gear and heads up a Tuesday challenge called: Heads or Tails. If you don’t know her site….WHERE have you been?

8 comments:

red tin heart said...

so true, we cannot become complacent now. I read your profile and though your great- great grandma's name was cool. My Mom is half Cherokee. Have you ever read any of Sherman Alexie's books? He is An American Indian author who is such a great writer. Look up the book, The Summer of Blackwidows, and the book , The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. xo nita

Kai said...

Must be our shared westcoast time zones, because I turned my TV on that exact same time that morning.

It took me a few minutes to digest what I was actually seeing.... six years... wow :-(

Keith Hillman said...

My thoughts are with all of my US friends across the pond today.

Skittles said...

Toby Keith sounds like a good choice to listen to right now.

I have watched the movie United 93 and it does follow the events as they unfolded very well.

It was the second plane that made us all realize this was bad. Very bad. I can't imagine the fear and uncertainty that so many felt while trying to locate loved ones.

I agree.. we should remember they are done done we us yet.

Mel said...

Forever changed and never forgotten.

((((((((( everyone ))))))))))))

tegdirb92 said...

wow, what an amazingly vivid account of the events. I too was skeptical of any maliciousness at the first plane crashing but then certain when the second one hit.

katherine. said...

this is a post worth reading....if you have the time follow her links to other sites as well.

Michelle Malkin 9/11 I Will Not Submits

I might need to be buying myself a new t-shirt....

Travis said...

It's been a rough day - the images have been vividly front and center in my mind since I woke up this morning.