Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11, 2001

Ten years ago our home phone rang around 5:30 a.m. It was a high school friend of my husband's calling from Houston. He asked where my husband was, who is a commercial pilot. I told him, my husband was moose hunting in the wilds of Alaska. Our friend then told me to turn on the television because two commercial jets had flown into the twin towers in New York City. 

All too soon there was news of a third commercial jet crashing into the Pentagon. The pilot community is rather small. My husband is a retired military pilot with many former squadron mates flying for all of the major commercial airlines. There were also a handful of his former squadron mates working at the Pentagon. I worried about our friends. 

Then came the news that all air traffic had been grounded in the United States. I was surprised to learn even the small planes that ferry many of life's necessities to remote Alaskan villages were included in the grounding. Hunters expecting a plane to pick them up from their remote campsite would not be getting out for some days. The weather is usually the culprit for travel delays in Alaska so hunters carry extra provisions. My husband had gotten to his remote campsite by boat that year instead of an airplane. But like every hunting trip, I had only a window of time to expect my husband to be gone. He might not be home for four or five more days.

It was an incredibly beautiful day here on Sept. 11, 2001. A clear blue sky, moderate temperature and brilliant fall colors. I went for a long walk on trails along Eagle River with mountains pushing up on both sides of me. It was so peaceful.

As it turned out, my husband had started heading home on 9/11. When he reached his first stop to a remote village he was told about the terrorist attacks. He and his hunting partner almost didn't believe it. He called home that evening. He was still too remote for television but I rambled on about the day's events. It would take him another full day to get home.

None of our pilot friends were involved in that day's events other than being stranded like many around the world.

I do believe I will always remember 9/11. I am amazed how politicized the event has become. It makes me wonder what it was like when Pearl Harbor was bombed. Were there Americans who felt the Japanese were justified in bombing the United States...that the success of our country was somehow to blame for the actions of others to kill innocent people going to work or traveling?

We have learned since 9/11 how miraculous it was that more lives weren't lost. We have learned about the heroic actions of the "extra-ordinary" passengers on United Flight 93. I now have a sense of great pride when I think of all those who struggled that day with incredible events and made morale decisions to risk their lives to help others. I hope I would be able to react so instinctively in a crisis.

My thanks to those who made decisions that day and since that have led to 10 years of  fighting and stopping terrorism.

I remember.

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