The Day America Changed

It’s hard to believe we’re coming up on the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Like so many others throughout the generations, I’ll never forget that day.

I was working from home that day and didn’t have the TV or radio on at first, so I was pretty oblivious to what was going on. Around 8:45 or so, I headed to town to buy an air filter for my truck, and at NAPA is where I first heard about what was going on. At that point only one plane had hit the tower, and it looked like an isolated incident. (Even now, when I buy an air filter for my truck, I think of 9/11…)

When I got back in the truck, I took out the CD I was listening to and turned the radio on. It wasn’t long after that when we all realized it was going to be a day when America changed.

When I got home, I tuned one TV to CNN and another to Fox News, and I soaked in the information and news that came throughout the day. The most difficult emotional moments for me were the sights of people throwing themselves off the towers to escape burning to death and when the towers collapsed. Crazy rumors flew throughout the day, and I remember grabbing any gas tank I could get my hands on because we heard that gas was supposed to spike as a result.

By the end of the day the panic has subsided a little, but it was clear that we wouldn’t be in the same mindset we’d been in for so many years, at least since the end of the Cold War. The week or two after the attacks were amazing; patriotism was at a peak, and patrisanship didn’t matter…at least for the first couple of days. I can remember going to the first UGA football game after 9/11 and marveling at how quiet the skies were around the stadium. I remember tribute shows on television, and I remember how musical artists I respect like Paul McCartney and U2 publicly expressing their support for the USA, especially New York.

We definitely live in a different world than we did ten years ago. I was thinking the other day how difficult it would be to explain to the girls what it was like to walk all the way to the gate to meet someone at the airport…what it was like to just pack a bag and not worry about liquids in your carry-on or what shoes to wear for your flight. Remember the color-coded threat levels? We don’t hear much about them today, but they were a big deal for a while.

I don’t suppose we’ll ever be back to that sense of security in America, at least not anytime soon. I hope we never go back to that compacency. At the same time, I pray that America always remains safe for the vast majority of its citizens.