Editor’s note: After the September 11th attacks, I sent out a request in our eNewsletter. Here’s what it said:
"I haven’t been able to get away from the news for the past week, and I’m sure most of you feel the same way. Wherever you were, whatever you were doing, you’ll probably remember the specifics for a long time. But memories deteriorate.
While I often find myself begging (almost) for more contributions, this request is of a different nature. Please take a few minutes to reflect on the past week and write down your experiences. I want to know where you were, how you reacted, what you saw, what you didn’t see.
I want to know how this has affected people. I will try to find a way to share it with everyone; or no one, if you prefer."
What I received soon thereafter surprised me. I not only received more contributions than I expected, but I found myself coming to terms with things through the reactions of those who wrote back.
I encourage you to read each and every response, for they represent a fraction of what I received. Please remember that these are uncensored responses that might offend you. Read and digest. Perhaps it will help you too.
– Michael Browne, October 2001
By Mike Phillips
I was working in Wilkes-Barre, PA on a fiberoptic job for a local utility. A young lad was sitting on his porch and he yelled up to me in the bucket, "Them crazies flew a plane into the world trade center!" Not sure if I heard him right I replied, "What crazies?" "Terrorists!" he yelled back. "They flew a second plane into the other tower shortly after the first one was hit. The tower is on fire." I brought the bucket down and walked over to the young lad. He asked if the guys and me wanted to come in and see it on CNN. So in the house the four of us went.
We all stood shocked as they showed the tower burning. Then in total disbelief we watched the replay of the second plane hitting the tower. I guess shock is what we all were in for the next few minutes. I felt ill. Like the life was sucked out of me. Anger soon followed. Feeling numb and pissed off I walked out to the truck we left running in the street. We all were speechless. What could you say after seeing that?
I felt so bad for the people in the plane and in the towers. Questions flew in my head. Who? How? Why? And then the young lad came out to tell us a tower had fallen. Back in the house we went to watch it. We stood with the kid in his living room for what felt like hours watching the horror unfold. Then we all thanked him, I think, and went back out to our work.
We didn’t get much done after that, our minds were not on the job. Nobody said much; we all just had blank looks on our faces. The young lad came out ever few minutes and gave us updates of the events till we were down the street far from his house. But others came out and we talked.
Everyone seemed so in tune with each other’s thoughts and feelings. I guess because we were all feeling much the same. After I had time to reflect on the day I was amazed how the people where we were working all put petty things aside and came together for one another. All race issues meant nothing. People caring for people became evident in watching the news and in everyday life.
I saw whites helping blacks, blacks helping whites and not one concern about color or creed. Just when you think all the good has left the world I saw how wonderful and caring Americans could be.
That evening as my wife and son and I watched the news together I had tears in my eyes. Seeing how tragic the day went for millions of people, but also seeing the love we can have for each other. And I wondered, why it takes such a horrible event to bring us all together?
God bless all the brave souls who gave their life to save others. And God bless all that lost loved ones. I think we all lost a little something on 9.11.01