#Neverforget, true…certainly the events, the lives lost, the impact on our country and the world at large, the events that followed…wars, global security challenges…the world will never be the same. So prophetic, this hashtag, and yet it means so much to so many.
I was on the last plane to land at LaGuardia that day. My cell phone rang just as we hit the tarmac….about 9:00 AM, it was my sister from Chicago calling. ‘Where are you?’ she asked, rather frantically. I said, I just landed in New York…there were lots of people around me realizing that I had failed to turn off my cell phone…so I was kind of embarrassed. She said ‘don’t get off the plane, turn around and come back, we’ve been attacked!’
She’s a news person, a former news reporter for WGN, Carol Davis, and has an amazing sense for stuff that is real news. At the time, having not deplaned…I had no idea what she was talking about. I was sitting near the front and the captain was standing in the doorway, I asked him…if he knew…he said something terrible had happened..but he didn’t know what it was.
As I walked along the jetway…I decided to call my kids, just in case…both were in college and I couldn’t reach either…but I left messages letting them know I landed safely in New York and I would try and be in touch. Later, they would tell me…as they listened to my message…I’m alright..they were like…okay. Classic!
My daughter was a freshman in college in DC and the Pentagon had just been hit…so she was beginning like everyone else to realize that something horrible was happening. She was terrified, we all were.
The History Channel has put together a short video that chronicles the events of that morning.
By the end of the day, people were beginnning to comprehend the enormity of what happened, everyone knew about the Pentagon, Shanksville and of course The World Trade Center. The next two days, I was able to move around Manhattan, it was scary, there were bomb threats but at the same time, millions of spontaneous hugs, efforts to comfort perfect strangers overcome by fear, a willingness to help in whatever way was necessary. It was almost like a kind of utopia, the most generous and humane sides of everyone on full display. Such a contrast…but it gave life to the statement, the worst of circumstances can bring out the very best in ‘people’.
That was my experience. I had done business in New York for almost 20 years, often meeting weekly in the city and frequently on the 86th floor of Tower One of The World Trade Center. I had never experienced the spirit of humanity in this way. Everyone was talking about it.
I left New York by car that Thursday and drove back to Chicago, I was able to get some work done. My kids were fine and slowly our country returned to it’s invincible self but hardened by the knowledge that anything can happen. Certainly, we seem to be in similar circumstances, again.
I can only imagine the work and tireless efforts of the White House and the Executive Branch planning to respond to the vicious work of ISIS or ISIL. President Obama knows that our response has the potential to unleash an even greater terror strike against the US than before. These are very difficult and complex times.
I hate violence, I think it solves nothing. But, such an effort has the power in its destructiveness to bring out and remind us all of our humanity and responsibility toward each other.
That is my prayer for today, to know in our hearts, that we are all in this together, #neverforget.