After your broadcast two weeks ago I had an occasion that demanded to be sent in to your accounts.
I was outside playing frisbee with my nephew after listening to your afternoon show Sunday before last when post-9/11 suddenly aligned with Sept. 11,2001.
Our town is under the southern flight paths from Metro Airport (DWC), and audible, visible, low-flying jetliners are an everyday experience outside. as my nephew and I were playing catch with a frisbee in the backyard, an unusually noticeable murmur from a jet caused me to turn around and look up.
A 747 was banking into a turn unusually low - just several hundred feet. As I did a mental double-take - yes, that was a jumbo jet and yes it was that low - the facts of United Flight 93 unreeled past my thoughts as my eyes tracked the plane.
A wide body airliner with all aboard that suddenly dived from the sky into some acres of rural Pennsylvania. Not from any mechanical crisis or pilot error, but purposefully, as the hijackers who'd committed themselves to a kamikaze mission were losing control to the passengers.
And this was the fourth occurrence that day, most notable insofar as this plane didn't complete it's mission by coming down on a city, major installation, or landmark. Rural Pennsylvania, as the passengers acted while the plane was over the countryside; an empty field not a farmyard by providence or happenstance.
As I watched the plane turning I was suddenly very aware of all the traffic overhead, all the airliners I'd seen while out in the yard or in the field across the street. Had I really never had this train of thought before over all these years, or had I made that connection and than sublimated it as one of the less-likely acts of God I can neither prepare for or prevent? I was left feeling suddenly very raw. That sensation I later remembered as being so characteristic of that afternoon and of the following days.The ground under my feet was that of a decade ago.
Standing in the slanting afternoon sunlight of a calm day in earliest autumn, it was as if all the alterations in thought over the intervening years were highlighted, silhouetted and were clear from the long shadows trailing from them.
More poetic, more literary than I intended, but I've been re-experiencing the minute. It's good to share.
When I came online to post this, synchronicity happened: a main news story was the account of then Lt. Heather Penney, wing-woman on the flight scrambled at once out of Andrews AFB to intercept United 93. With no weapons mounted on their F-16s but gun ammo to use against a large jet filled with innocent civilians, she and her leader, Colonel Sass, had independently reached the same conclusion; their surest and quickest course was for one of them to ram the plane to bring it down at once in one place. I'd be interested to know how much time elapsed between take-off and notification that U93 had crashed. News earlier this week of a second living Medal of Honor nominee, American pride, yes but it makes me sad that kind of heroism now gets the chance to happen.
The date has an additional significance here, my younger brother's birthday is on the tenth. I can remember standing in the dining room and telling him that the date would be significant now, "like the day before Pearl Harbor," agreeing that that would be freaky and how lucky it was the day "before," not "on." He would later follow my younger sister's footsteps and join the Air Force for a term and I will have to ask if and how any of the above had to do with that.My nephew, 8, was born a year and a half later, 6 months after the first Patriot Day. For him, the decade just past is the way thing have always been and the way that was and is.
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