Voices silenced and images faded
Everybody remembers the day the planes dropped out of the sky. The first, a violent explosion, which ‘must’ have been a horrible mistake. You knew hundreds died instantly in the smoke and flames of impact; people on the plane who were travelling on business or to see family, people with stories embarking on a normal travel day; Individuals working at their desks after the routine of the morning commute. They left home and expected a normal work day.
When the second plane hit and you knew instantly and without a doubt, the plane crashes were done on purpose. That the airlines crashing into the towers were not a horrific accident of monumental proportions. The sheer magnitude of what happened combined grief with fear to produce panic. Uncertainty and the horrible awareness that nothing was safe, no where was safe. Everything had changed and you watched in helplessness as lives ended right in front of you, televised live as events unfolded.
That’s when the planes truly started falling from the sky, this time by direction. By government order, flight after flight was cancelled and diverted to the nearest airport. Thousands of people stranded far from home and family and filled with fears. Fear of the unknown, fear for themselves and for the friends and people unheard from. The degrees of separation narrowed, as we thought of everyone we knew in New York and all our connections of people who were suddenly placed in harms way. Fear permeated everything and reason seemed to desert us in the face of what we saw
There was no infrastructure established to handle the sheer numbers of people travelling who suddenly had to land. There was no emergency plan in place that covered the need to remove all air flight. Yet airport after airport stepped up to handle the incoming traffic and people. Communities came together and descended upon the stranded people taking them into their homes to not just console them, but to help each other understand, to comprehend that what was happening was as real as it was unimaginable. Strangers became friends and bonds of a common humanity held us together.
Even as the world we knew fell apart around us, as buildings collapsed to rubble. So much death and destruction witnessed in such a short period of time. So much heroism coming to light as people chose to die than to cause harm to others. The most eerie thing about that day, was the silence as vapour trails disappeared, leaving empty skies. People went home and stayed home. Traffic went away and you could feel the tension of uncertainty as people simply waited.
It was a horrible day, living with the fear that a mode of transportation had been converted to a weapon to kill and cause destruction. A peaceful and beautiful morning turned to billowing clouds of smoke as debris fell to cover the ground. The innocence of and illusion of safety was stripped bare in front of us that day. It left scars and suspicion. Its impact will forever be felt by the witnesses to the day and the lessons taught to future generations.
9-11 was a pivotal day for peaceful nations around the world who understood that the hatred and mental instability of extremists could touch their lives in negative ways but it was also a day that clearly delineated those of us who value freedom over tyranny. For us, it was a wake up call that our spirit is stronger, our love for one another is stronger and our belief in good over evil is stronger than anything that can be brought against us. We don’t just rebuild, we redefine. We don’t hold hatred, we used it to give purpose to those who died and those who survived.