Lessons of 911


Each year when September 11 rolls around again, I’m reminded how tenuous our existence is on this planet. Who could believe that at any moment some rogue culture or group of lunatics could  break through US security measures to destroy thousands of lives?

The victims on 911 were people who were doing their best to live honorable lives and support their families.  Even if they’re were not totally honorable,, their chances were good to get it right – someday.

The victims of 911 would never get that chance.


As is usually the case on such an earth shattering day, I try to recall what I was doing before the earth shifted  on its axis and fear settled over the plant like an eclipse of the sun.

Do you remember what you were doing at that moment and for days afterwards  I do and I never want to forget.

I was a news junkie who watched 24-hour cable news.  But I  had taken advantage of the cooler September weather to do some long overdue chores in the garden.  I didn’t even turn on the television that morning.  At 9 a.m. I rushed inside to put on lipstick, spray some perfume and headed to T. E Lott, the CPA firm which volunteered for the task of acquiring nonprofit status for the Starkville Arts Council.

That was a big deal deal for the fledgling arts organization which is now a major positive force in our town.

As I cranked the car and backed out of my driveway, a news flash broke into the airwaves informing us that a small plane had crashed into one of the twin towers in New York City.  “Puzzling,” I  thought absently. The reported said it was an exceptionally clear day in .the airspace over New York and no clear reason for such a minor disaster.

“That almost seems intentional,” I thought absently, never dreaming how such an isolated incident could possible affect my community, my life, much less the world.


As I entered the CPA firm, nothing was as it should have been.  People were frantically running into Jeff’soffice.  I followed to find 15 people crowded around one painfully small television. I think that was before flat panel high definition televisions even existed.

The old clunker was transmitting the most terrifying scenes imaginable. Gratefully,  “reality television” had a few years yet to go.  While we watched in horror, another plane plowed into the Pentagon.  The cold truth set in.  America was under a siege we hadn’t imagined since Pearl Harbor.

I’ll never forget someone cut the TV’s sound and we had a prayer for the victims of this detestible tragedy.

I left and drove home to call my boys. You want to talk to your loved ones immediately at a time like that.   I don’t think I even had a cell phone – at least not a reliable one. Once I heard their voices I took my golden retreiver Cajun and went over to my best friend Jack’s house. We watched the news coverage for hours and hours and made homemade pralines and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Sometimes the only way to cope is to have something your mother used to make for you.  My mother made me grilled cheese sandwiches and Jack’s made pralines.

What do you remember about that day?


4 thoughts on “Lessons of 911

  1. My husband and I were in Vancouver, Canada attending a convention. We were trapped there until the following Tuesday. Our son was in Austin, TX working on his PhD at the Univ. of Texas. We had a younger daughter in OH, and our older daughter and her husband were visiting NYC and were outside the 2nd tower when it went down. It was late afternoon until we finally heard from them. The whole family was frantic until we heard from them. They were tired, dirty, and scared, but ok. It’s a day I’ll never forget. She and her husband have lived in NYC about 14 years now and currently live only 2 blocks from the new World Trade Center.

  2. I remember that day well. We all will. Like the day Kennedy was shot and died in Dallas.

    Yesterday, Don and I laid flowers at the memorial site in Nice for those who died there. A father and son were from Austin.

    Not the world we grew up in. But, sadly not so different from our parents; although the world is so small now, we feel the threat of terrorism every day… They did not.

  3. You’re in Nice! Hope you’re having a “nice” time! I remember reading about the father and son who died. It brought tears to my eyes. Where else will you be going?

  4. I was in the library at West Point High School helping to prepare breakfast for our business partners. Tommy Bryan was there as well as the late Roger Hill. Elizabeth Bailey came in and said we needed to turn the TV on because a plane had flown into the Twin Towers in NYC. Of course, we all thought it was an accident until the second plane flew into the Tower. I can remember feeling so numb. Like Barbara Meiring, I wanted to talk to our girls who were scattered across the Southeast. It was afternoon before I was able to reach all 3. It was very scary because we really did not know what was going to happen next. My heart still aches for all those who lost loved ones that tragic day.

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