Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Clear Blue September Sky -- Ten Years On

I remember quite well the vivid blue sky of the morning of September 11, 2001. Tybee Island was cool -- there were no clouds -- an east wind blew in from the sea. It was going to be a beautiful day.

I was watching Bryant Gumbel on the news. I'd gotten DH off to work and my DD off to school, so I decided to watch the news before cleaning the house.

I remember a brief blip when Gumbel reported a small fire on the roof of one of the WTC towers. Then, about 5 or 6 minutes later, a report that a small plane might've hit the tower.

Then... in just a few more minutes... it seemed as if hell had been unleashed.

Some of it is just a blur. Televised scenes of people running... police cars and fire trucks... screaming and crying. People trapped on the highest floors waving jackets from windows trying to call for help.

I called my husband -- he'd just heard what happened himself. We talked for a few and then, just a few minutes after that, I called him back and told him of the second plane.

We decided that I'd go and get our daughter from school. We didn't know what might come next -- and we wanted her home.

It was just all so strange that day. Like a nightmare -- one that haunts you even after you've awakened. The two towers fell -- so many dead. And the whole world seemed to be covered in that choking grey ash.

Yet... things were all so... quiet. No planes in the air... (We lived across the Salt Marsh from Hunter Army Airfield and just 10 or so miles across the Atlantic Channel from the Beaufort Naval Air Station) but nothing was in the air after a while.

I know that we decided to go ahead and take our daughter out for pizza as Tuesday was our traditional family night out. And we so wanted to keep things as normal as possible for her. She was only 9 -- but she, too, was aware of what had happened in New York, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania.

As we crossed Highway 80, the Tybee Road, we noticed about 20 or so cars pulled off to the side. We pulled off, too. Didn't have to ask why people were out of their cars staring at the early evening sky -- it was obvious.

The sky was filled with... what I can only describe as angels on the wing.

These were not contrails -- the planes had been grounded for hours at this point.

Not clouds -- the whole day had been cloudless and the deep azure that only a September sky can bring to the coast.

Yet, in the sky were a dozen or more wisps of white that seems to be angels racing across the horizon to the north and to the west. We could plainly see the outline of the wings and there seemed to be such urgency and such sadness.

And of all these people pulled over on the side of the road that day -- no one spoke a word. After just a few minutes of watching, we all began to leave.

I believe I saw angels that evening. I have never done so since that day.

I think of the victims of September 11 often. How can you forget? How dare you forget?

And no, I don't forgive those who did it or those who celebrated it.

Those who do not remember History are condemned to repeat it.

Don't forget. Never forget.