Wednesday, September 10, 2014

One September Morning

It was a lovely morning in early fall.
I worked for The Salvation Army in Charleston, West Virginia. I had already seen my first few clients – helping them with bills, clothing, food and other needs associated with my job. I hurried back to the pantry to get a family some food, and made my way through the break room.  Normally empty early in the morning, all the administrative staff was in the room, sitting in front of the tiny television set saying very little.

I went about getting the food together and gave it to the client waiting at the back door. As I returned to my office, I saw that everyone was still looking at the television and walked to where I could see what they watching.

I saw the first tower smoking, and reporters were speculating about the kind of plane that accidentally hit it. About then, I saw the second plane hit the second tower. I remember saying, “That was no accident.”

Almost immediately they were calling for off duty medical personnel to report to all the New York City hospitals.

A couple hours later they were reporting the small number of people who were being seen by medical personnel. It became very clear that a relative few in the two massive buildings were wounded. The rest were dead.

And now came the rumors.

There were anywhere from 4 to 8 planes in the air heading for targets all over the United States. A plane had hit the White House, a plane had hit the Lincoln Memorial, and there were planes over Los Angeles…on and on…

A plane actually did hit the Pentagon.

But then, a plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania, and somehow we all knew; it was no accident. We all knew, passengers on the plane realized that America was under attack and they fought back.

A brave young man with no proper authority did the unimaginable - he closed United States Airspace; grounding every plane in the country. We don’t know how many lives he may have saved, but no more terrorists acted that day.

For probably the first time since the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, America was of one heart and mind. We are like siblings who might beat each other to bloody stumps, but God help the person outside of our family who tries to harm one of us!

No matter what he may have done right or wrong, when our president went to New York and stood at what has been called “Ground Zero”, and vowed vengeance on those who attacked us, every American watching felt a surge of pride. Our leader stood up for us and he stood up with us.

The years have passed. Pain has softened, and sadly, patriotism has waned, but we have not forgotten. There are memorials in New York City, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania to those who died that day.

There has been a War on Terror in response to that day, and there are memorials in cemeteries across America of young men and women who answered their countries call.

There have been others who came home with wounds not even seen during World War II, to less jobs, an overburdened health care system, but nevertheless, to a grateful nation.

So many issues to think about, but today, on September 11, 2014, please take a moment and remember those we lost on that day not so long ago, and those we have lost in the years since.

Remember too that for a brief moment, America stood as one heart, as "One Nation Under God", and we survived.