Last week we got a TV installed (finally!). It was just in time to see all the 9-11 coverage. CNN, The History Channel, Dateline NBC … you name it, we’ve watched bits and pieces of all the dramatic footage. And this year in particular, the children have asked lots of questions and have wanted to see the accounts.
And one of the inevitable questions you hear the reporters ask people is … “Where were you when you heard?". One lady responded that she saw the footage, she assumed it was from a movie.
If only it were a movie.
And tonight, I told my kids the story of how I heard ….
Caroline had gone to school and Brittany and Savannah were at home. I was turning on Barney for Brittany to watch but the TV was still on NBC from the night before. I heard Matt Lauer on NBC talking about a plane that had hit the World Trade Center and just as the picture came into focus, the second plane flew into the other building. Immediately they knew this wasn’t another accident but, in fact, an attack.
I never turned Barney on that day. As with the rest of the nation, we watched it unfold, minute by minute. Sometime between 8 and 9, I got a phone call from my mom. She was yelling … “What is happening?!?! What is happening?”.
You see, my parents were at the White House. They had taken a group of students from Arkansas Baptist High School on a trip to Washington, DC. My dad was driving the bus.
I can still remember EXACTLY what the background of the phone call sounded like … it was as if you could hear the anxiety and the confusion in between hearing the Secret Service yelling for them to “RUN”.
The phone went silent, cut off by the millions of cellular calls that were trying to be made. Or perhaps it was cut off during the craziness of the run. I did not hear from my mom again until the next day. Maybe it was late that night … all I know is it was a LONG time.
I took Brittany to her preschool that day and told my friend Cindy about the phone call. We sat down and prayed for their safety. I assumed they were making their way to safer territory and they were. I think they drove all the way to Tennessee before they stopped for the night.
What the day before had been a wrong turn my dad had made on the streets of DC turned out the next day to be a blessing in disguise. The officers were telling my dad he couldn’t get through one way but he remembered the “wrong turn” from the day before and expertly took that bus away from the the city … while the smoke was rising from the Pentagon.
You know why they were safe?
They were safe because a group of American heroes attempted to overtake an airplane in rural Pennsylvania. With the words “Let’s Roll”, they fought and although they lost their lives … many, many people were saved because of their heroic actions.
Including my mom and dad and the students and sponsors on the trip.
For those men bravery and heroism weren’t just words, they were actions. And it will never be known how many they saved because of what they did.
Yes, we remember. We remember because we cannot forgot. We remember because we don’t want to forget. We remember because while so many of us didn’t lose a loved one … so many people did.
And ten years later we are all still moved by the images and the remembrances … and we pray.
God shed your grace on us.