NEVER FORGET

 
September 11, 2001
Never Forget
           I wanted to feel the comfort of shared grief.
 The quilters were a blessing to me.
Standing before the television,
 getting my last look at the news
 before beginning the day,
 I couldn’t comprehend the scene before me.
A large plane had flown into the World Trade Center in New York City
 and completely disappeared. 
 Smoke and flames were billowing out
 at a point six stories from the top of the building.
 The remnants of the plane had not appeared on the other side.
 It didn’t make sense.
I knew I wasn’t watching a video or a re-run.
 How could this have happened?
I called to my husband who was working outside. 
“Come in here and look at this.”
As we stood together before the television,
 another large plane appeared 
and flew into the second tower, 
not emerging on the other side,
 causing an explosion of smoke and fire.
As the day progressed,
 a tower collapsed and disintegrated into the ground 
sending unbelievable amounts of soot and smoke 
racing through the narrow streets.
Hundreds were running away 
in an effort to escape the terrible scene.
 An event, which I have never viewed,
 although I know it was captured by cameras,
 shows thousands of people
 jumping from the fire in the buildings 
to their deaths on the ground.
  I cannot bring myself to look at it.
It was reported that 400 police officers and fire fighters 
were killed
 while attempting to rescue as many as possible
 from the blazing buildings.
 These brave men led many to safety.
 They are heroes. 
This is America.
 Tragedies such as this don’t happen here.
As the day wore on,
 I couldn’t draw away from the sight
of the events before me.

 I felt fear and a heavy sadness
 for what was happening in New York.
 How could anyone
 living in the United States of America
 believe this could be possible?
Thousands of people had gone to work that morning,
  never to return to their loved ones. 
How do we accept such an event
 except through fear, confusion and sadness.
Later, as the hours passed,
 a report was given that a passenger plane was down. 
Flight 93, had crashed and disintegrated 
in a field in Pennsylvania. 
Forty unbelievably brave passengers attempted to take over the plane. 
 All were killed as they tried to retrieve control from the terrorists.
We remember them as heroes.
A report was given about a fourth plane
 with 184 passengers aboard 
which had flown into the Pentagon.
 Many were killed.
 The scenes before me could not be denied.
 It was reported Fight 93 had been destined
 to destroy the White House.
 Because of the actions of the passengers
 the plane had crashed 
into an empty field.
That night
 our church, 
which will hold 300 people,
 held a prayer meeting. 
Every available place was filled.

 This was the beginning of a new awareness.
 There are people who hate us because we exist.
 They hate us so much, 
 they willingly die
 in order to kill as many of us in this country 
as possible.
I felt a strong need to reach out to people far away,
 wanting to feel the comfort of shared grief. 
How could that be accomplished?

My recently developed  hobby of quilting 
had led me to discover
  a program on the Internet 
designed for exchanging quilt materials.

 Choose a listed name and address,
  send twenty-four two-inch pieces of material 
in a variety of colors.

They would be sown into a quilt. 
I should send my material to them
 and they in turn 
would send theirs to me. 
 Along with the material,
 the guidelines suggested also sending
 a little note about myself,
 where I lived 
and briefly about my life.
I received exchanges from every state in the union
 including one from Israel.
 Eventually there were enough squares
 to make a full sized quilt,
 covering both sides with the material received.

Opening each package
 I felt warmly connected to these women
 I would never meet. 
 I felt strengthened
 knowing that their hands
 had prepared the material, 
which I now held in my hands. 
 The quilters were a blessing to me.
Each message I received resides in a folder
 for remembering friends unknown.
I was sixty-six years of age.
 My life
and thousands of others,
could never be the same. 

 We must not let the evil existing in the world 
change us as persons 
or as citizens 
of the United States of America. 

The events of September 11, 2001 
have been burned into the minds
 of those of us who witnessed it.
To many of our youth,
 September 11, 2001,
 is only a piece of history.
 It may be likened to the story of the First World War, 
Viet Nam, or the Korean War.
 The difference is
 this happened in the United States of America
 in the twenty-first century. 
It didn’t happen 
under the leadership of George Washington
 or Abraham Lincoln. 
 It didn’t happen 
when Theodore Roosevelt or Harry Truman 
held the office of president.
 It happened 
under the administration 
of the forty-third president of the United States of America,
 George W. Bush. 
To President Bush, 
in office for less than one year,
 fell the responsibility of dealing with a people who hate us.
 These are people 
who consider our very existence
 to be an affront to their god.
 It fell to our president
 to comfort
 many who were frightened and grief stricken.
This isn’t the world in which I grew to adulthood.
 Could I have imagined
 a foreign nation taking the lives of 3000 people
 on a fair September morning in New York city?
 Would I have believed 
I would be a witness 
while standing before a television in my home
 as it was happening? 
 The answer is no.
We must never forget September 11, 2001.
 The memories remain vivid 
on September 11, 2018.
 Sadness comes quickly.
 I will not forget.

 

copyright@2018
Photography By Mary Anne Tuck

 

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