It’s a frequent question after something amazing, or rare, or in this case horrific, happens; “Where were you when it happened?” On a fall day, like the one today, I was in a training class for my job. On a break from the class, someone told us that an airplane had hit the World Trade Center in New York. Definitely an amazing story, but nothing compared to the events that were going to unfold in the coming minutes and hours ahead. Information began to trickle in through that fateful morning that another plane had hit the second tower of the trade center. We were all a little disbelieving. That seemed a little too unlikely…a little too unrealistic to have happened. Someone had to have just heard a news report wrong. Well history would tell us that it did happen, and a third incident would happen at the Pentagon, as well as a fourth incident failed in the green fields of Pennsylvania.
Everyone likes to recount their stories of events like these. However, it is the days that followed that are most memorable to me. It is not the political posturing of a President. It was not the heroic images that were flashing on our television screens on a 24/7 feed. For me on those crisp September days that followed it was the silence.
In those days, my young family lived in an area of Lincoln, Nebraska known as Air Park. It is a housing development that had evolved out of old military housing that used to exist when there was a sprawling air base out there. All that remains now is a lot of open grassy space, and several suburban housing developments. The airport still exists, and the 155th Air Refueling Wing of the Air National Guard operates here. They fly those huge tankers from there. On the commercial side, Lincoln’s airport is small. It is just a little regional airport that services the smaller aircraft that fly people to major hubs like Minneapolis or St. Louis.
In response to the events that were generated by those planes, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) ordered all aircraft grounded immediately. Planes were forced to land at the nearest airport to their current air location. Here in Lincoln several flights were diverted here and their passengers were made unintentional tourists of our city because of events thousands of miles away. No flights of any type were allowed initially. I’m sure military aircraft could scramble to a threat, but as I said, our airbase was a support wing of tankers so they were held silently on the ground as well.
It was the next morning I awoke and dressed for work, still numb from the media blitz of information and lack of information of the day before. I went about my usual routine getting ready, and it is when I opened the door and stepped outside that it struck me. It was very quiet. The only sounds you could hear on that early morning were the birds and insects chirping to life as the sun rose, oblivious to the events that had humans captivated in fear the prior day. I had lived in and around this area most of my life, and I don’t think I had ever been exposed to this much silence. It was almost like humans had been removed from the orchestra of noise and it created a very different piece of music that morning. I never realized how much noise that airport made on a daily basis until it was silenced.
Several days later the FAA would lift the grounding order and allow flights to take off again. It was about 5:30am when the first jet liner roared to life and thundered down the runway. Slowly life would return to normal and there would be no more quiet mornings like those of that mid September back in 2001. It was a chilling pause to the events that were to come later, and a memory that I will never ever forget.
- “Never Forgetting 9.11.2001 ~ We Will Never Forget!!” and related posts (theodoresworld.net)
- “Before 9/11 Moslems Prayed Inside the World Trade Center Every Day” and related posts (aftertheamericancentury.blogspot.com)
- “The Twin Towers, circa 2000. (Photo taken just a few blocks from my apartment building.)” and related posts (jenniferwoodbury.typepad.com)
- “Remembering 911 on 9-11 And Ground Zero Visit, New York” and related posts (zennie2005.blogspot.com)
- We Must Never Forget (dickstersrandomthoughts.com)
- Never Forget: 9/11 Families Share Memories of Their Heroes (pajamasmedia.com)
- Where I Was On September 11 (redstate.com)
- On 9/11, remember the dead, but fight for the living (truth-reason-liberty.blogspot.com)