September 11, 2001
Posted on Thursday, September 13, 2001 by Ryan
September 13, 2001 by Ryan Clements
My wife just walked into my office, started to speak, and immediately tears fell upon her eyes. As I embraced her, between deep breaths and sobbing, in an attempt to settle down, she described stories of the individual tragedies of some of this week’s victims. There was a man and his two daughters on board one of the hijacked planes; mid-flight he called his wife to tell her he loved her and that he and another passenger were going to try and overtake the terrorists…the plane crashed outside Pittsburgh. Lest we not forget about the grandmother and mother of two twin daughters who were flying back to California after the daughters enrolled in an east coast art school…death ripping through innocence as their plane collided with one of the World Trade Centers. Lori has been glued to the TV like so many of us during these past two days of heartache and confusion, trying to make sense of the carnage, hatred, and merciless acts.
The most powerful and envied nation in the world has been infiltrated. Barry and I witnessed the second plane hit the World Trade Center live on NBC. What initially seemed to be a freak, unexplainable accident instantly turned into a blatant act of terrorism. The screams of the reporting journalist gave me a feeling of uneasiness and despair; it was Red Dawn for real. I called Lori shortly after figuring out what the hell was going on and commanded her to purchase as many rounds as possible. She described me as acting like a “crazy man.” After witnessing Tuesday’s occurrences, I now believe that anything is possible. The culprits, whomever they are, took a piece of sanctity and security from our citizens that can never be replaced. This is by far the most devastating thing I’ve ever witnessed, and considering that it happened on our own soil, deems it unfathomable.
Whether or not I want to come to grips with the carnage and destruction is something that I’m struggling with at this very moment. Although I have been compelled to burst out in tears, I have held them in, creating the feeling I used to have as a child when I knew that I shouldn’t be crying. I’m sure that I will eventually break down, but for now I strive to be an example of strength to my peers, proving that I can be shaken, but not broken. Thoughts of my family and friends raced through my mind as I witnessed the ultimate symbols of democracy and capitalism collapse and burn before my eyes. I felt helpless and betrayed. Although there was nothing that could be done, it was as if I was letting my loved ones down by not making it stop.
I assume that hopeless feeling was conjured through my patriotism. I’m glad that I missed Vietnam; who wanted to die 10,000 miles from Florida, in a jungle, fighting the potential spread of communism? But circumstances change when your home is being attacked. Our newfound national patriotism is comforting. At least for now we’re putting aside our racial, economic, and societal differences and unifying. Every single flag that I see flying ignites chills down my back, fire in my eyes, and vengeance in my heart. It reminds me of stories that I’ve heard about past world wars…how American families would skip meat on a certain day and grow their own vegetables to conserve.
I hope that every child in every classroom in the entire United States stood and proudly recited the Pledge of Allegiance during homeroom the morning after like never before. There has never been a better time to appreciate living in the greatest country that the world loves to hate. Bless all Americans and our allies; may we bring death upon those that have caused us harm.