Eight years ago
I was sitting at my desk at the radio station where I worked with my feet propped up on the desk and reading a magazine when my co-worker rushed in and said "A plane has just hit the World Trade Center!" Our first reaction was shock and commenting on how awful it was, but we had no inkling how terrible it would actually turn out to be. His next announcement, just a little while later, was "Another plane has hit the other tower of the World Trade Center! They're saying we're under a terrorist attack!" Those words turned my blood to ice. Even now, remembering his words I feel myself shiver slightly.
It was the first time in my life I had ever felt insecure about my safety. Previously, I had always felt that we, as a country, were one of the Untouchables. Never in my lifetime had the United States experienced anything like this. The last time anything even remotely similar had happened had been Pearl Harbor, some 60 years earlier, when my dad was only a few months old! It was a feeling I will never forget.
Shortly after those first announcements, real panic set in for my family. Although we were in Georgia and well out of the path of danger, my eldest brother was not. You see, at the time he lived in Pennsylvania, but he worked in New York City. As a foreman for NYC transit, he had spoken to my mother only days previously and had told her how he would be working on the subway system near - you guessed it - the World Trade Center. We watched our televisions with bated breath as hell unfolded on the unsuspecting people who had gone into the world that cool September morning expecting nothing more than an average day, all the while my Mom was constantly phoning, phoning but unable to get through. The phone lines were jammed.
I continued working and did my on-air shift, our radio station tuned entirely to news, worry for my brother's safety eating through me the whole time. As we heard news reports come across of the casualties in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania, my mind kept playing different scenarios of what may have been happening to my brother and I admit now that none of them were positive or pleasant. I worked enormously hard to keep my composure until I could finish my shift. As soon as I could legitimately leave, I quickly made my way home to be with my mom and pray.
Unlike many people that day, our story has a happy ending. After sixteen grueling hours of panic, worry, prayer and almost continuous dialing, my mom was finally able to reach my brother. By some wonderous miracle, the Lord saw fit to give my brother and most of the members of his crew the flu. Due to having only two members who were not ill, the whole team had been relieved of their duties for that day and told to be prepared to work the next day. They had all been upset to have caught the flu, but it is proof that while we may not know what the future holds, there is a higher power who knows and prepares. I thank Him so much that He saw fit to spare my brother's life and, in the same breath, I say a prayer for those who were lost that day and for those who lost their loved ones. Please know that there are those who will never forget the suffering that continues with you this day and your loss is still with us.