My Rose of Sharon is in beautiful bloom.
It's a peaceful, temperate, gorgeous day.
I imagine my yard would have been much the same 11 years ago. The skies would have been just as blue.
And the peace and comfort and apparent gentleness of such a day was abruptly and horribly shattered.
At the time, Hubby and I lived in central Ohio. I wasn't working. He was employed by UUNet, the big-client division of MCI WorldCom. His department handled help desk service calls for some of WorldCom's biggest customers (cable companies, other ISPs, that sort of thing). He opened trouble tickets and followed up on service issues. They sat right on one of the largest internet connections around, and their web speed was blazing fast.
Until 8:47 a.m. It slowed to a crawl. In an effort to see why, Hubby started checking major news sites. He couldn't get through. Everything was down. His office turned on the TVs to see if they could get news that way and learned of the planes hitting the WTC towers...just before their lines lit up.
Can you imagine having to break the news of terrorist attacks causing your customer's internet problems when the caller hadn't seen the news?
We had a friend living with us at the time, and she burst into my bedroom where I was still asleep. Tears streamed down her face. "There's been an attack on the World Trade Center," she told me.
I raced to the living room. My eyes locked on the screen just as the second tower collapsed.
The fear and helplessness that swept through me were overwhelming.
I touched base with Hubby. He was fine, of course. Bogged with calls for the first little while. Now they were just watching the news, because lack of internet seemed to pale in comparison to what we as a country were now facing.
An attack on our own soil.
I called my dad next. I'm from upstate NY. The odds that I would know someone working in the Towers that day were scary. (At least one friend of a friend died that day.) In fact, my dad worked for the state of NY at the time and frequently went to NYC for his job. I called his office in Albany and quite calmly left a message with his secretary to have him call me at home. It wasn't until he called me back that I panicked (I know; how odd is that?), realizing he could have easily been there.
That night, Hubby and I stood out in the small parking lot of our small apartment complex and stared at the central Ohio skies. Nothing but stars. No planes. No tell-tale blinking lights. It was eerie.
It took less than 24 hours before our entire community seemed to be blanketed in flags. We were a nation fiercely united, in our grief, in our anger, in our determination, in our support, in our love of country and empathy for those we didn't even know.
Politics had no place.
We were all simply Americans.
And I am immeasurably thankful...
...for the brave men and women of the NYPD, NYFD, Port Authority, and EMS services, who raced to answer the call.
...for the SAR teams who deployed from all over, to help with the search.
...for the diligence of dogs and handlers, who searched long and hard, with tired feet and cracked paws.
...for the clergy who simply came and made themselves available for comfort.
...for the Red Cross.
...for those made the ultimate sacrifice on Flight 93.
...for those in the towers who did the same, ushering others to safety at their own peril and own ultimate cost.
I weep for those who have lost loved ones, friends, co-workers, children.
And I swear to you, their sacrifices--whether innocent victims or those of emergency and protective services who gave their all--will not be in vain.
My children were born years after this.
But they will know.
Because I know.
I will not forget.
Long may she wave.