America - After 9/11 (Part One)
I was standing there ready for school with my dry toast in one hand starring at the boring morning news when confusion struck me. A panicked announcement about a plane hitting a tower in New York City. Immediately, I picture a bunch of suits and ties being trapped inside with no way out.
Wide eyed I turned to my mother worried, I asked, “Are the people in meetings going to be okay”?
My mother responded in assurance that helicopters would come and take them from the top of the tower. I don’t believe she even knew of the horrid tragedy that was unfolding. The morning continued as usual, however when I got to my 3rd grade classroom I noticed my teacher looked worried, she leaned over and whispered to my mother that a second plane had hit the towers. The day was a whirlwind, my classmates were being called to the front office to go home early, eventually all of us were headed home. I lived in Oklahoma, and I remember teachers fretting about the Oklahoma City bombing.
At home, the television was blaring with live coverage of the terrorist attacks, people screaming and running from the gusts of debris and dust. I will always remember the big man with glasses covered from head to foot in white soot screaming at a camera man for help. Like everyone on that day, we all remember where we were when America was attacked. Even children as young as 8 could see the world had just witnessed a horrifying, violent strike on innocent lives. A day we will never forget, and every year we think back on the almost 3,000 lives lost, and the continued loss of lives of those who dedicated themselves to clearing Ground Zero.
On the day of the attacks, 2,977 people were murdered, and very few were rescued from the tons and tons of debris. By September 12, all who were still alive had been saved. The rescue mission had turned into recovery operation within a day’s time. While the country mourned the loss of thousands, hundreds and hundreds of cleanup workers worked sometimes 14 hours a day to remove burning steal and help recover the remains of loved ones so that families could have closure. The damage was so severe a fire burned within the wreckage for 99 days straight. It was not until May of 2002, when the cleanup officially ended, workers had moved more than 108,000 truckloads–1.8 million tons–of rubble to a Staten Island landfill. While the physical damage was no longer visible to the eye, there had been great injury to the United States.
The days and weeks to come after the terrorist attack paved the way to the America we know today. Fear was what was for breakfast, as we watched the morning whether coupled with color coded terror alerts. Al Qaida the terroist group, and any nation who didn’t show full allegiance to the US was enemy #1. According to the President, if you were not with America- you were apart of the, “Axis of Evil”. As George Bush stated in a State of the Union address in 2002, “Our war on terror is well begun, but it is only begun. This campaign may not be finished on our watch, yet it must be, and it will be, waged on our watch.”
It never wavered, soon troops were in Afghanistan and Iraq, and before we knew it, Saddam Husain was captured and while everyone was celebrating his imprisonment, many others were beginning to question where the war on terror ended and the war for oil began.