9/11 Stories

W. Thompson

It wasn’t really until the day after that I finally began to figure out the totality of the events of Tuesday. The problem wasn’t that I was away from all the news that was fit to print and it wasn’t that I was unable to see the images that were repeatedly thrust upon us. The problem was that the hangover that this had caused was now creeping fully into my system, the numbness that had hit me on that Tuesday morning was now starting to wear off and in it’s place was the stark reality of the day previous.

We were all safe, deep down we knew that we were safe within the walls of our office - we were in Northwest Washington and there was little thought of anything happening near to us. But then there were the images of the Pentagon burning, there were wild reports of another plane somewhere above us and there was the TV screen that was carrying different views of huge clouds of dust, dust that used to make up buildings in the heart of our largest city.

So we began to scatter, to pull ourselves away from anything institutional, into our means of egress - away from anything that might be a target. We clogged the streets with our cars; we filled the trains and buses - anything and everything to pull ourselves away from untold and unimagined danger.

Our phones rang incessantly, our messages ran rampant and our minds raced with ever-changing scenarios - the shelter to which we had become so accustomed was eroding at a very visible rate.

It was in church that evening - in a hastily assembled group of confusion and question - that the first calm voices were finally heard. The songs and the words reminded us that this was merely a day - a day that would have an end. So we found ourselves under a common roof at the end of a day, a day that has become a waypoint in course yet uncharted. We found ourselves together in the realization that the common unity that would be forged by this single day was to become stronger in the coming days, which many would find to marvel, but none may question.

As we walked away from church that night, I saw a father and his son walking ahead of us. It was dark, so they were difficult to make out, but I could discern that the child had something in his hand. As we approached an intersection the silhouettes paused to wait for the light. I watched the child looking at his father - holding up the object he held in his hand and talking as quickly as he could. It was obvious that he was very excited about what he held - which drew my curiosity. As I walked by them - I looked down on the round, blonde head and then down to his tightly clenched fist, clutched therein was a small plastic replica of the Statue of Liberty.

With an arm stretched out to the blue sky
It is her that none can deny
She then all we have and all we may
Her rest is never, for night or for day

This then our place to which we will always return
Our source from which we cannot turn
It is the sight that she will always see
For those who leave, return to me

She then raised up above each day
This lady who stands amidst the cause or the fray
It is upon her that our resolve be made
It is her light that shall not fade

W. Thompson
Falls Church, VA