On September 11, 2001, we lived in Park City, Utah. It's an idyllic place, rich in history and natural beauty (and ridiculous world class ski runs!) I was making the bed and starting my day like any other morning when my DH called up the stairs to me, "Honey, come here. You need to see this."
While we watched the smoking tower on the news, I had a strange sense of disconnect. It surely wasn't real. Who would purposely fly an airplane into a building? It wasn't within the realm of possible. Once it sank in that indeed someone would do such an outrageously insane thing, I remember the selfish gratitude I felt that my DH wasn't traveling for his work that day and thanked God he was beside me on the couch. We watched the towers fall, the Pentagon take a devastating hit and the courageous passengers of United 93 go down in Pennsylvania. Our world changed before our eyes.
Hospitals in the Big Apple braced for an inundation of casualties that never came. The skies over our country emptied as all airports shut down. We didn't know who was behind this unthinkable attack or how much longer it might go on. By the time it was over, almost 3000 people died that day as a result of terrorism.
That night, President Bush wrote in his journal, "The Pearl Harbor of the 21st century took place today."
The comparison is apt in some ways. Pearl Harbor was also an attack on our soil, even though Hawaii was still a territory then. The death toll of that early morning bombing was over 2400, similar to 911. But the difference is in 1941, the American public didn't watch the carnage in their living rooms. My inlaws didn't even hear about it till a day later because they didn't turn their radio on that December 7th.
Because we saw what happened on 911, we are changed. I tried not to let it affect me. My DH and I still traveled. A month after the attack, the DH had to go to London for his work and I went with him. The cabbies, the hospitality workers--everyone we talked to there was delighted to see us. Americans had been staying home in droves.
Last year, my DH had to travel to Japan for work. I tagged along because I couldn't resist the chance to play tourist. The Japanese people were lovely, warm and welcoming. I wandered around a city of over 12 million souls on my own without even being able to speak the language and I've never felt so safe. It was hard to grasp that the horror of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima and Nagasaki ever happened.
Will the day come when I could travel to Cairo or Tehran and feel that way? I don't know.
But I hope so.
Where were you on 911? How has it changed you?
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