Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Where Were You?

From my earliest memories, my parents and grandparents spoke to me and my brothers of the trials, hardships and atrocities of World War II.  We listened intently to their stories and saw the pain, loneliness, and heartache that were written on their souls from their experiences, but we couldn't fully understand.  We had never experienced such life altering circumstances and had nothing to draw from to truly comprehend their sadness.

Within the span of a few short hours one September day, my heart and soul were changed forever and ached with a pain which could never be fully assuaged.  On this day I understood what my parents and grandparents had experienced.  Watching live television coverage of the second plane hit the World Trade Center was forever seared into my memory.  Hearing the accounts of survivors who had made it out of the World Trade Center alive left me in disbelief at the horrors they had witnessed.

As I listened to the family members of Flight 93 recount their cell phone conversations with their loved ones, I could feel their very strength and determination infusing my soul.  I could see a visible change in the faces of the news anchors as they listened.  Yes, there was an angry flame that was lit in the heart of most every American that day, but there was something more.  Something so much more.

The very heart of America was changed and we were sewn together in a bond which was impenetrable by any outside forces.  You felt that bond in the workplace, while pumping gas at the gas station, or when you were buying groceries at the store.  What was meant to drive a wedge into the heart and soul of America instead united this country and created a deep and profound resolve.  America made the choice right then to never surrender .................... and to never forget.

So on this 11th day of September 2013, 12 years later I choose to stand with my grandparents and remember so that we are never doomed to repeat our past.  12 years ago today, I was 5 months pregnant, we had just been transferred across the country for my husband's job, and I was taking my dog for a walk when the first plane hit the World Trade Center.  As I walked in the door to my home, the phone was ringing.  It was my husband telling me to turn on the television.

As I sat there watching the live coverage, the second plane hit the twin tower.  Disbelief, horror, and panic ensued.  My youngest brother had mentioned he was to be in New York at the World Trade Center.  My panic increased when I heard that one of the planes was from Boston.  My middle brother was in Boston on business and was supposed to be flying out.  And then I realized my oldest brother, a commercial pilot, was likely in the air.  All of these thoughts in a split second.

I flew to the phone.  Before I could reach it, it was already ringing.  It was my Mom........ and I could feel the uncertainty and fear in her voice through the phone line.  She told me to turn off the television and she would get in touch with all of my sister-in-laws to find out where my brothers were.

Immediately upon hanging up, my Mom's phone started ringing.  My middle brother's wife called first to say he was safe and ok.  He was stuck in Boston and the city was shut down, but he was alive and he would have to figure out a way to get home to Texas.

My youngest brother called next.  He had ended up having to cancel his trip and was not at the World Trade Center, however, he had lost friends and colleagues who were there in the World Trade Center that day.  We thanked God for altering my brother's travel plans.

Last up was my oldest brother.  He had been ordered to land in the middle of the United States, as had all air traffic, and was safe as well, albeit stuck in the boonies.  It took much longer to find out about him because he had been put into a landing rotation which required him to circle his assigned airport for quite a while until it was his turn to land.  As soon as he was on the ground, he was on the phone.

We thanked God so many times on that day because for a few short hours, my world did stop turning.  Time literally stood still as I sat and waited for word on my family members in the quiet stillness of my home.  I prayed ceaselessly in the ensuing days for my family and friends, for my Dad's co-workers and friends who were American Airlines pilots and flight attendants, for our leaders, and for all of those who were killed and injured, as well as those who lost loved ones that day.

As my parents and grandparents taught us, we will never forget and we will make sure that our children never forget.  So, where were you when the world stopped turning?

by: Christie Bielss

1 comment :

  1. That fateful day that stunned the world and broke so many hearts. I was in college I think and I was so unaware of the things that were happening from the other side of the globe. Until now my heart goes out to the victims and their loved ones. May we find justice in this lifetime.