Thursday, September 11, 2014

I Remember

[This is a modification of the first post I wrote for 9/11 based on a talk I had with my son last night.]

On Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, you were thirteen months and fifteen days old. Your dad took you to day care and he went to his office. I had a dentist appointment, which is why I wasn't with you two

I flipped on the news while I was eating breakfast. The first plane had crashed into the North tower. No one knew what was going on. They thought it was a freak accident. Until we all watched the second plane ram into the South Tower.

By the time I got to Dr. Mellard's office, the third plane had hit the Pentagon.

The back room with the treatment bays were terribly quiet. There was just the drone of the TVs she had installed in each bay to help keep patients distracted. I watched nearly 3,000 people die on live TV while sitting in the treatment chair.

When I got home, the second tower had collapsed. There was a message on our phone from my friend, Lanelle. "Don't bother coming to the office. They're shutting down our building and the Galleria."

I called your father and repeated Lanelle's message. He said his building was still open, but they'd gotten word that Williams Tower near his office was evacuating. It's one of the tallest buildings in Houston, but since it's in uptown, not downtown, it sticks out. The perfect target.

"Get GK and come home now. It's bad."

By the time you and your dad came home, the FAA had grounded all civilian flights. Our house is under the landing path for Bush Intercontinental. We never realized how much the hum of jet engines was part of our background noise until they were gone. Then the first military planes crossed the sky. The difference between them and commercial aircraft was unmistakable. And they flew very low, and very fast.

The rest of the day we split our time between watching the news and listening to fighters out of Ellington Field fly patrols over Houston. In between the passes, an eerie silence blanketed the city.

And I was so thankful you didn't really understand what was happening. You knew something wasn't right, but you quietly played with your blocks and trucks while your dad and I wondered if our country was about to go to war. Or if worse things were about to happen.

Have things gotten better since then? Yes and no. I don't think you'll ever understand what it was like before that day. When your dad and I could throw some clothes into a bag at the last minute and hop a flight to your grandparents or to New Orleans. All you'll ever know is the long lines, the overworked and undertrained TSA agents, and the immense planning that goes into our family taking a plane anywhere.

I'm sorry so many kids lost their parents that day. Or their aunts, uncles, grandparents, siblings...

I'm sorry your generation will be paying for my generation's mistakes, miscalculations, and sheer ineptitude for years to come.

I'm sorry this is the world we've given you. One of fear and hate and prejudice. One were your friend Saif couldn't see his own grandparents for nearly a year because his parents were scared to leave the U.S., terrified they wouldn't be able to return because they were Muslim even though they were American citizens. And his Pakistani grandparents couldn't come to see him, even if they wanted to.

I'm sorry.

And I pray every day that you and your friends do a better job of finding peace than we did.

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