published Saturday, September 10th, 2011

Recalling 9/11 and going forward

As we observe the 10th anniversary of 9/11, most of us can remember where we were when we heard the news. Isn't it amazing that we not only recall the facts about that fateful day but our feelings as well?

In Chattanooga, it was a clear, crisp day. My husband and I got up early to be at the hospital at 7:30 for Ralph to have minor surgery. Soon after we arrived, our son and daughter-in-law joined us. When Ralph went into surgery, we went to the waiting room on the floor where he would be returned to his room.

When we entered the room, there was an eerie silence as people sat glued to the television screen. Minutes earlier, at 8:46 a.m., American Airlines Flight 11 had just crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. At that point, when we thought it was a terrible accident, I learned something about the human mind. When faced with tragedy, the mind searches for a happier memory.

Thanksgiving holidays, 1992, flashed into my mind. My husband and I decided this was the year for our entire family to spend the Thanksgiving holidays in New York City. Our grandchildren, then ages 10 and 7, would like seeing the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. We were right. The fact it was drizzling rain and cold didn't dampen their spirits.

We chose the restaurant atop the World Trade Center for Thanksgiving dinner. Our seating was at 1 p.m. so we could have the fantastic view. Though the food was great and there was a magician to entertain the children, the view was nonexistent. Later, when we asked our grandchildren what they liked best about the trip, we assumed they would say the parade or the toy store. With a mischievous grin, our grandson said, "the wonderful view at the Trade Center."

Somehow, that memory of a happier day soothed my heart as we watched in disbelief as United Airlines flight 175 crashed into the South Tower, and we knew our nation was under attack. We heard, and it was later confirmed in "The 9/11 Commission Report," that 2,600 died at the World Trade Center; 126 died at the Pentagon; 256 died on four planes. The death toll surpassed that at Pearl Harbor in 1941.

The report tells us the immeasurable pain to all involved was inflicted by 19 young Arabs acting at the behest of Islamic extremists headquartered in faraway Afghanistan. The directions were given by Osama bin Laden, who wasn't found and killed -- by American Navy SEALS in Pakistan -- until this year.

In the intervening 10 years, the unity our nation felt seems to have vanished. We bicker politically and complain about the inconvenience of airport security. It is my prayer we remember two things: First, the principles of the Judeo-Christian traditions that have made our country great; second, that we individually live out the musical prayer: "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me."

Nell Mohney is a Christian author, motivational speaker and seminar leader. She may be reached at nellwmohney@comcast.net.

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