Today the nation remembers the horrific events of September 11, 2001. On that day, seven years ago, I was serving on a jury for a personal injury case. Since I arrived at the courthouse two hours early, I decided to get some breakfast. I arrived at the mall just as the second plane hit the tower. I noticed people crowded around a television in Radio Shack which I thought was peculiar because it was too early for Radio Shack to be open. They were replaying film from the first attack when I walked in. I thought it was a movie at first, but the looks on everyone’s faces told me that it was real. My body grew tense as I stared at the screen. I could only think about the people on the planes. I travel by plane at least once a month and was already a bit nervous about flying. What if it had been my plane that they hijacked? The thought terrified me.
I forgot about breakfast and headed back to the courthouse. While I was walking, I called my wife to tell her what had happened. She didn’t believe me immediately because tendency to pull her leg from time to time. It wasn’t until she turned on the television that she finally understood the magnitude of the situation.
“Are you coming home?” She asked with concern in her voice.
“I don’t know,” I told her. “I’ll have to see when I get back to the courthouse.”
The third plane had crashed into the Pentagon by the time I returned. The bailiffs gathered all of the jurors into a room and told us to wait until the judges made a decision on whether the trials would continue. We all sat nervously hoping that we would be released to go home to our families. My first child had only been born only five months earlier and I wanted to be at home with her and my wife. The bailiff returned and told us that the trails would proceed as planned.
“But we’re in a government building,” someone yelled. “What if they decide to attack us?”
“We have the building secured,” said the bailiff. “Everyone will safe.” His words were not very comforting because we all realized that we were unsure of what safe meant anymore.
During the following weeks, I felt a strong connection to my country and to my fellow citizens. It was great to see Americans put aside their differences and come together for a common purpose. Of course, things are much different now. Our country is more divided than ever and I’m not sure that we’re any safer than we were before 9/11.
I haven’t really talked about the events of September 11th with my kids. I guess I have tried to shield them from the evil that exists. I know it’s only a matter of time before their innocence is shattered and they learn that danger is pervasive in this world. When they do, it will be my job as their father to provide them with a sense of comfort and security.
My wife and visited New York in 1999 and purchased a photograph of the World Trade Center from a street vendor. At the moment, we didn’t realize how significant our purchase was. We simply liked the photography. But now that photographs constantly reminds us of the day that changed the world forever.