Unspeakably Impotent

I awoke early as usual just before 6 a.m. pacific time and turned on the news as part of my daily routine. But there was nothing routine about this day, September 11, 2001 for there was a fire in the Trade Center building in New York City and every channel had the same story! A fire or so it was thought until a plane struck the second tower! And I shouted oh my god we are under attack! We lived at McChord Air Force Base in Washington State where my wife was stationed as a maintenance scheduler, I had retired from the Air Force in 1997 and had the most unpleasant experience of being transfixed by the images being broadcast on every channel of buildings on fire, first responders trying to organize a response and control the people and move them back out of harms way. I was mesmerized by the incredible images of the buildings as they burned, people jumped, and ultimately collapsed in a heap. I remember swearing at the T.V. who would do this, and why? I was so angry and at that moment could have killed without remorse anyone associated with the attacks in New York and at the Pentagon in D.C. but I was a "civilian" and going to school to become an educator. I never will forget the helplessness I felt witnessing the attacks and being unable to help. The base locked down, bunkers with machine guns appeared overnight, and armored cars blocked access with security forces in full combat gear on every gate and patrolling the perimeter around the base. Long lines for cars with workers trying to get on base! It wasn't long and new barriers were erected to prevent unauthorized access. I wanted very much to join in the War Against Terrorism but it was not to be...not directly.

When I started teaching in 2004 I made sure that all my students learned about 9/11 the who and why. I had them share their stories until they were too young to have a memory and then had them interview an adult and record their experiences and share it. When I retired from teaching I turned over all these stories to our school library. I hope some of them may see the light of day during the anniversary as they were amazing!

From many parts of the world too as our school serves many immigrant families but no matter where you lived you knew what happened. Aircraft grounded everywhere, new bureaucracies created like Homeland Security and TSA, secure cockpits, and restrictions on personal liberties like never before. Necessary measures in the matter of public safety and prevention of another such attack. We used to great each other at the gate, bring water bottles and even hand guns on planes! Our World Changed Forever!

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