I Remember

Remembering 911

The morning of September 11, 2001 was a pretty busy morning for me. I woke up super early and went to work to get a good start on a top priority project I was working on. I arrived at the office a couple of hours before sunrise. At that time, I was working in downtown Dallas at a mortgage company. As the Communications Manager, one of my jobs was to create corporate presentations, usually delivered by the CEO or other executive.

PowerPoint was my trusted tool of choice at that time, but since this particular presentation was so important, I decided to use a new way of creating and delivering presentations – Macromedia Flash!

So I was knee-deep in Flash – fiddling with keyframes and motion tweens – listening to Third Day blare through my headphones throughout the morning. I barely noticed the lights switching on and the slow trickle of coworkers filtering into the other cubicles around me.

I don’t remember the exact time, but my friend Bob, who sat in the cubicle behind me tapped me on the shoulder to get my attention. I took off the headphones and he said, “A plane just hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center.” I asked him what kind of plane and he said he didn’t know. I put my headphones back on and got back to work. While I was working, I thought to myself, “What kind of idiot would fly a plane into a tower that large, thinking it was a small private plane of some sort.” I also remember wondering how many people could have been injured and hoped everyone was ok.

About 10 or 15 minutes later, Bob tapped me on the shoulder again and said, “Another plane just hit the other tower.”

At this point, I put the headphones down completely and called my wife, who was 8 months pregnant with our second child. She was at a doctor’s visit and was watching it all on the TV in the waiting room. She was pretty distraught about it all and I remember hoping that this would not induce an early labor.

From that point forward, my day was pretty much like everyone else’s. We spent most of the day watching CNN on the large screens in nearby conference rooms. I thought for sure we would all be sent home, especially since we were in one of the taller buildings in Dallas, in a very nearly-direct flight path to Love Field. No one was sure if there were more attacks planned.

Looking back, I wish now that I had come straight home, but at the time, I don’t think I even comprehended the enormity of it all. I ended up leaving work early, listening to the radio the whole time. We went to a prayer service at church that night and prayed. I don’t even know what I prayed for. What can you possibly pray for at a time like that?

That was 8 years ago today. This is the first year we have sent our kids to public school, where we have a 5th grader and a 2nd grader there. I sent an email to the 5th grade social studies teacher the other day asking what the school had planned in terms of remembering 911. Here was his response:

“We don’t talk a lot about 9-11 or go into great depth because of people’s different beliefs and feelings related to what happened. In the older grades they do go into more detail because the students are more able to form their own opinions and thoughts about the information presented. I hope that makes sense.”

Make sense? No, that doesn’t make sense! So people’s different beliefs and feelings prevent us from talking about one of the worst catastrophes in our country’s history? Are we also not going to talk about slavery or the Holocaust? I’m sure there are lots of different beliefs and feelings related to those aspects of our checkered past.

I think whatever you tell your kids, either at home or at school, should be age appropriate, for sure. I’m not advocating showing CNN footage of the day’s events to the kids or showing any gory photos of people jumping out of skyscraper windows, but by all means, can’t we find a way to remember the day? Don’t let it go by without acknowledging what happened.

Too many people were killed. Too many heros gave up their lives to save others. Our country has changed too much to let this day go by without doing SOMETHING to remember that awful day.

Don’t forget!

No Comments

  1. Raj says:

    Yeah I agree with Bryan on this one. To all those ppl who lost their lives…God Bless America.

  2. Saqib Khan says:

    Dear Chuck,

    Innocent people losing their lives anywhere in the world is a tragedy indeed, this day is such a monentous point in post-war US history that it beggars belief that US schools aren’t taking the opportunity to reflect on this day about those who’ve lost so much on this day. For younger children they could tie in a theme of appreciating what you have right now, loved ones and perhaps freedoms that don’t exist in other parts of the world. For older children they could bring in greater themes about how despite what some might claim, there is no religion which justifies the killing of innocent people anywhere and not to assume what some misguided people do and say in the name of religion isn’t necessarily so and that we should keep open minds and open hearts.

    As a British Muslim of Pakistani origin with a great many American friends, I’m every bit as sad for those who died on this day in New York City and elsewhere and for every US serviceman killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan and Iraq as I am any Palestinian, Afghan, Iraqi, or anyone else. I feel for all their mothers, wives, children, etc, left behind whose lives are forever changed for the worse in an instant.

    In this holy month of Ramadhan, I say a prayer for rthem all and for the protection of the innocent wherever they are and for the wrong-doers to see the error of their ways. Having stayed with Southern Baptists friends in North Carolina in the past, I’ve always found more in common with committed Christians than I do with ignorant Muslims, no true man of god has hate in his heart or sees another as of less value to him, whatever his faith.

    I pray God protects us all from the causes and effects of such terror.

  3. chuck says:

    Well stated, Saqib. Thanks for your unique perspective on this.

  4. Saqib Khan says:

    I forgot to say in relation to the feable response you received from the teacher that whatever one’s beliefs, the only appropriate feelings run along the lines of immense sadness that this sort of thing could happen, empathy with those who have lost their most beloved and relief that our loved ones are as yet safe from harm, how could that offend anyone?

    It these types of misguided and awkward stabs at political correctness that perpetuate and increases resentment toward communities that are assumed to be offended when we label such acts as horrific. It creates a sense of injustice of being wronged and then being censored when articulating reasonable sentiments of grief and regret.

    Added to the outrage I’m sure most Americans felt/feel, there are a quiet majority of right minded Muslims like myself who also felt/feel outraged that their religion was so heinously hijacked for politically motivated terrorism. A great majority of us practice a personal and discreet brand of faith and are more focused on working hard to give our families security and a solid foundation of education for our kids than on any geo-political ambitions, just the sort of people whose voice is not dynamic enough to interest the mainstream media over the more attention capturing militant maniacs draping the cloak of islam over themselves.

    All discussions on 9/11 don’t have to focus on geo-politics, one can introduce far greater themes like emphasising the commonality of all races and other concepts of humanity that the whole world would be better off adopting. My mother is a high school teacher in a London suburb and finds no problem in declaring how wrong the harming of innocents is, perhaps there is some value in sharing the thoughts of a Muslim in London with your child’s teacher, I don’t know…

    PS. I’m grateful to Andy Rutledge for retweeting this, I really feel the need for people to know that Muslims out there understand your pain on such an occasion and even though personally innocent, feel both outraged and shamed by such wickedness.