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Where were you?

This year we mark the 20th anniversary of the attacks on American soil. Most people know exactly where they were when they first learned of the attacks. I was at home, babysitting for my grandson. My husband was on the couch watching the “Today” show. He called me to come look at what was going on.

At first no one knew what was taking place but within an hour or so, the attack was documented. We were under attack. First the Twin Towers fell. I am not sure what came first the flight that was diverted in Pennsylvania or the attack meant for the Pentagon. All of this was very disturbing.

I remember how empty the sky was that day. You could look up and not see a plane in the sky. Although we heard from our President, he was not visible. We had no idea where he was.

We watched the coverage for hours – in shock! What was going on? Why were we under attack? Who was doing this? How many people were killed?

People went to work that morning as usual. When they said good-by to loved ones they never expected it to be for the last time. When people boarded those flights, they never expected it to be their last one. What an eerie feeling that is today. I think it changed my perspective on life for good. Never leave home without kissing your loved one and saying I love you. You never know when it could be for the last time.

We flew the next year. Nothing was direct at that point. We were up and down a couple times. We were going on a cruise. We went through inspection after inspection. All because of what happened in 2001. When we got on board, I went to put my birth certificate in the safe deposit box. When I reached into the pocket of my carry-on, I found my husband’s jackknife. I used this carry-on when we traveled to Cleveland for treatment. I always collected the things from his pockets. I also had a couple of very large bolts.

I showed my roommate. This did not make us very trusting of the security. I wonder what else was missed?

I am happy though that I did not loose that knife. It was all I had left of my husband at that point.

Plane travel changed forever. Nothing was simple anymore.

A few years ago, when we traveled to New York City we visited the Reflecting Pool and the museum.

We had to show security to get in there.

One grandson had read about the little church where notes were posted to try to find people. We visited that at his request. To think of so many people dying from this attack is not pleasant. When we saw those twisted beams, they were a reminder of the suffering that must have occurred.

At that time our country was united. We were solidly behind our president who took charge and was once again visible. The memorial service was somber. I recall that we watched it. The roll call of those who died was long, but then, they all had to be remembered.

I cannot imagine the grief those families suffered. What was routine was no longer routine. Death is such a final thing. One leaves with nothing. One never needs earthly things again.

If only our country could be as united as we were then. Color was not an issue. Class was not an issue. Status was not an issue. Sexuality was not an issue. We did not feel the hate that is radiated today. How have we changed from that moment? Why are we in the fix that we are in? Why can we no longer work through our differences? Why are we so polarized? It was just twenty years ago. That is about a generation. This generation seems bent on having their own way. The values of the past are wrong. Why are they so wrong? We are still all human beings with likes and dislikes. We still love. We still work to better ourselves. We still are families who are hurting.

When those young soldiers died in Afghanistan, we all should have felt the pain. They were not just young men and women, they were daughters/sons, wives/husbands, and mothers and fathers. They will be missed by many. They deserve our respect. They did not need to die. The war was ending and they were to come home. What happened that day? There is enough sadness to go around. We brought our men and women home, but at what price? We left a lot of equipment there that I am sure they can make use of.

As we remember the 9/11 attacks, can we come together once again? Can we be respecting human beings? Let the business of the government get done. Quit all of the investigations and get on with things. We have wasted a lot of money on worthless things.

We are the UNITED STATES. Let us act like we are united.

And yes, we have just come through a pandemic! It is not over yet. People are still getting sick. People are still dying. We cannot be legislated into compliance. People must think for themselves. You must do what is right for you and yours.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.

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