Ten Years Later

Like everyone else, I’ve spent the last couple of days thinking back ten years. Not only about September 11, 2001, but about September 10, 2001. About how different our world was on the 10th when compared to the 11th. And every day since. The United States lost its innocence on that Tuesday morning ten years ago.

I was blissfully unaware of the events as they unfolded. I was in the basement of the Milsop Community Center in Weirton, West Virginia, teaching my regular yoga class. When class ended at 10AM, I stopped at the front desk on my way out and the lady behind the counter told me a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I grinned stupidly at her, waiting for the punch line to what I was certain was a very bad joke. Even when I realized it was true, I believed it was a horrible accident. Until I was told a second plane had hit the other tower.

I listened to the events unfold on my radio as I drove home. I don’t have a true sense of the order of things happening because the reporting was so frantic and confused. Reports of what had already happened were new to me. But I do remember hearing of the plane going down in Shanksville as I drove through my own Pennsylvania countryside, not all that far from the final crash site. And I remember looking up for falling airplanes.

I also remember just wanting to get home. To be with my family. To contact my friends. To take stock and make sure everyone was safe.

I was one of the lucky ones. All of my loved ones were indeed safe. I don’t know a single person who was killed in New York or Washington or Shanksville. Yet I grieved for every last one of them.

I spent the rest of the day glued to the TV watching the same horrific footage over and over and over again. I wept.

A strange, unearthly silence hung on the air in the days that followed as all flights across the country were cancelled. We live along one of the main flight paths for the Pittsburgh Airport. At any time of the day, I can look out my window to see contrails across the sky. More often than not, I can hear the distant roar of a plane overhead. We’re far enough away that the noise isn’t obtrusive. In fact, I rarely pay any attention to it.

Until it’s gone. Those days after 9-11 were eerily quiet. The blue skies were void of those familiar white streaks painted across them. When the noise and the contrails returned, I cheered.

Now, ten years have passed. I’ve been thinking about the world then and the world now. I’m not at all certain we, as a nation, are stronger having lived through it. In fact, when I look at the news and the squabbling in Washington, I wonder what happened to all the standing together our nation did right after the devastation. But I’ve always avoided political topics in my blogging and I don’t intend to change that today, of all days.

Instead, I just offer up the prayer I started chanting at the end of my Weirton yoga classes after 9-11. Om Shantih.



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