Paul and I were going to do our grocery shopping, our son was at school, it was a beautiful day.
I was living in St Petersburg, Florida, sixteen miles from MacDill Air Force base, soon to become "Command Central". President Bush was just thirty minutes south visiting an elementary school in Sarasota. It was not uncommon to see military aircraft fly over. In fact air traffic was a part of the landscape being so close to four airports.
Before leaving the house to go the grocery store the news reported a plane hitting the World Trade Center. At first it was thought to be a small private plane. I said a short prayer for them and headed out the door. It wasn't until I was standing in the grocery checkout lane that I realized there was more to this plane crash. Every grocery store employee was standing in front of a television at the front of the store, staring in disbelief. A second plane hit the other tower. As the day progressed fear and uncertainty began to rise. Reports of another plane crash in Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon. We were being attacked with our own aircraft.
As a mother my first response was to protect my son. I stood in the front yard trying to decided if I should go to his school and bring him home. His school was only 3 blocks away. That's when a F-16 flew over the house so close you could see the pilot. My son happened to be outside at recess the exact same time and saw the same F-16. In his innocence he thought it was "cool". I decided to leave Taylor at school. He was safe and I didn't want to create anxiety by interrupting his normal schedule. He would know soon enough. As I turned to go inside four more F-16's flew past. It's about to get real.
The days following the attack air traffic had come to a complete stop. There was a eerie silence that was broken by the occasional military aircraft. Even the birds stopped singing. The weeks that passed were filled with grief, anger, fear and many tears. The Nations patriotism soared uniting people from many walks of life. Churches filled up as people looked for comfort and answers. Seeing our flag brought tears to my eyes. I was proud to be an American.
Years later we had the privilege to visit the Pentagon. The building has been rebuilt and a memorial and chapel are now at the exact place of impact honoring the 184 people who died there. It is hallowed ground. In the center of the room is a table with a memorial books filled with stories, photos and biographies of the victims. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters. Their names etched into two black panels behind this book. I was moved to tears.
Today, on the anniversary of 9/11 I pray for peace in the world. Is it possible? Maybe not but I will continue to pray and hope for peace.