September 11, 2011

Where Were You That Fateful Day?

Ten years ago, yet it feels like yesterday. I'll never forget where I was, how one event touched every single American. It didn't matter the color of your skin, your sexual orientation, your economic situation, or your political beliefs. We came together, to mourn and rebuild.

The day started like any other. I was exhausted, mom to a 15 month old daughter and 3 months pregnant with number two. My husband and I were in the middle of relocating to San Diego. He was already there, and Jackie and I had our plane tickets to join him September 30th. The house was sold, the movers had come.

The day before, my parents drove up. Jackie and I were going to spend a week with them before heading to San Diego. We woke up early, wanting to get a head start with several hours of driving ahead of us. For the first three hours, the car was filled with the lively sounds of The Wiggles and other kid music. Jackie drifted off to sleep sometime around 10am.

Dad, having been a good sport, quickly turned on talk news. Mom and I were chatting about all my plans, the new baby...

"Sh! Listen," Dad said.

"What is it?" Mom asked, she could sense the concern in his voice.

"Something's happened. I'm pulling off at the next exit," Dad said. The next exit was ten miles. We sat, silent.

At first, it all seemed so War of the Worlds. Was it some kind of joke? We had no images, just the frantic updates of radio news. Ten miles seemed to take forever, but we finally pulled off. Jackie woke up the minute the wheels stopped spinning. Her nap shortened, she was not happy. Mom and Dad rushed from the car to see if they could find out what was going on. I was a few steps behind, trying to get Jackie out of the carseat and grab the diaper bag.

I walked in. Fifteen people were gathered around a small television set. Even Jackie sensed the moment, she quieted. We stood there, watching. The images almost too much to bear. It seemed like a trailer for a sci-fi movie. It couldn't be real. I don't remember how long we stood there. The only sounds came from the television and the jingle of the bell, signalling another customer had walked in.

The next few hours were spent in the car, trying to reach all of our loved ones. Ed in San Diego, my sister and her family in Albany, New York and many more. We could only imagine the people with loved ones on one of the planes or in one of the attacked buildings. We quickly verified the safety of our friends and family, but knew many of our fellow Americans were not getting such good news.

That night, I sat reading Jackie a book and rubbing my belly, feeling blessed. My heart ached for the lost lives. I knew I'd never forget where I was the day the world stopped turning.

Where were you when the world stopped turning?


This song, by Alan Jackson, will forever be associated with the attacks. Every time I hear it, I get the chills. I wanted to copy the lyrics here today. If we learned nothing else from that horrible September day, I hope we all learned a lesson in love. One we can put into practice every day we have left.

Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)

Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?
Were you in the yard with your wife and children
Or working on some stage in L.A.?
Did you stand there in shock at the sight of that black smoke
Risin' against that blue sky?
Did you shout out in anger, in fear for your neighbor
Or did you just sit down and cry?

Did you weep for the children who lost their dear loved ones
And pray for the ones who don't know?
Did you rejoice for the people who walked from the rubble
And sob for the ones left below?
Did you burst out in pride for the red, white and blue
And the heroes who died just doin' what they do?
Did you look up to heaven for some kind of answer
And look at yourself and what really matters?

I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man
I watch CNN but I'm not sure I can tell
you the difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith, hope and love are some good things He gave us
And the greatest is love
Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?
Were you teaching a class full of innocent children
Or driving down some cold interstate?
Did you feel guilty 'cause you're a survivor
In a crowded room did you feel alone?
Did you call up your mother and tell her you loved her?
Did you dust off that Bible at home?

Did you open your eyes, hope it never happened
Close your eyes and not go to sleep?
Did you notice the sunset the first time in ages
Or speak to some stranger on the street?
Did you lay down at night and think of tomorrow
Or go out and buy you a gun?
Did you turn off that violent old movie you're watchin'
And turn on "I Love Lucy" reruns?

Did you go to a church and hold hands with some strangers
Did you stand in line and give your own blood?
Did you just stay home and cling tight to your family
Thank God you had somebody to love?

[Repeat Chorus 2x]
And the greatest is love.
And the greatest is love.


Kate @ Teaching What Is Good said...

Definitely a day we'll always remember. I've never heard this song but the words are very powerful. Thanks for sharing, Tia.

Tia Bach said...

Thanks, Kate. It's an amazing song, and a great reminder of what our priorities should be.

Ginnie Butterfly said...

I am not American but I remember that day very well too - I always will... I am so grateful for what I have but sad for those who lost loved ones.

Tia Bach said...

Ginnie, your comment is a great reminder that this was a world sadness, not just an American one. It left everyone feeling vulnerable.

I think we all clung tightly to each other. A good lesson for going forward.

Thanks so much for dropping by!

Barbara McDowell said...

War of the Worlds is such a great description! I also lived the early parts of that day via what I heard and the radio reports. I was at work and the lady next to me just happened to be talking to someone in NYC. She spoke out loud relaying the strangeness of the first plane hitting (we thought it was a traffic reporting plane), then the horror of the second. It was then I started making calls to find my sister who was there. We had to evacuate as hijacked flight 93 moved into our airspace. I spent hours stuck in traffic with just the radio. When I did get home, I saw the replay of the second plane hitting and the towers falling. I also was able to find my sister safe, though stranded in NJ.

Unknown said...

I also relate to the War of the Worlds description. It didn't seem real at first.

Tia Bach said...

Thanks, Barbara & Jackie. It was so surreal. To go from the innocence of The Wiggles to hearing about 9/11 caught us off guard. It was hard to digest.

Barbara, thanks for sharing your story. What a harrowing day, but glad your sister was okay.

9/11 sure made us all cling to our loved ones.