Nine years ago this week I was in San Antonio, Tx to do some management training for my company. We wrapped that up on Thursday and I had planned to drive to Victoria the next day to do a safety and training compliance audit at one of our stores.
The next morning I was dressing for the day while watching CNN on the TV. As I sat down to put on my shoes the TV screen was suddenly filled with the images of a plane crashing into the Twin Towers in NYC. At the time there was rampant speculation about why that had happened, but it didn't take long for those questions to be answered.
I sat there saddened and dumbfounded for about two more hours, constantly answering my cell phone. My family, friends and coworkers back in Dallas at the corporate office were concerned that I might get on a plan to fly to Houston or back home. My kids kept calling me all day to vent their anger and sadness and needing Dad to reassure them that though a tragedy, we would get through it. I think all of us lived through that day and the immediate days after on the edge of a precipice, not knowing who or where the terrorists might strike next.
I finally did make it to Victoria in the early afternoon but spent the rest of that day talking and praying with our store employees and customers. No one was in any mood to do anything but watch the TV screen. I think every customer who came into that store just stayed, some sitting on the floor and some on chairs and couches. When I finally left in the late afternoon, every television (and there were many) was surrounded by people struggling to make some kind of sense of the horrible thing that exploded into their world that morning. Many were military related families since San Antonio is home to a large Air Force base and about 60 miles north is Fort Hood, one of the nations largest military training bases.
As I arrived back in San Antonio around 8:00 pm I had heard on the radio that a blood donor station had been set up at El Mercado, so I drove there. What a sight I saw when I drove into that area to find an enormous crowd of people patiently waiting to give blood at one of several bloodmobiles that had been set up there. I had also learned from the local radio station that the city was virtually shut down and the only restaurant open was La Margeurita which is located just outside the Mercado. I found out that the restaurant was providing free food so I was able to get something to eat around 10:00 pm.
I stayed around until well past midnight doing whatever I could to help. That was a day and night I will never forget. That usually happy, festive place was as somber as a cemetery. I did not know a single person that I saw but we were all drawn together like family, each seeking to make any kind of comforting, personal connection. I truly needed that too because, although I had talked with the Rose and our kids off and on all day, they were hundreds of miles away. But, I never felt alone because we all shared a common grief and sought comfort from one another.
If the terrorists thought their actions would cripple America or break our resolve, they thought wrong. That night I toyed with the idea of re-enlisting myself, but it didn't take long for common sense to convince me that since I had recently turned 60, the Navy wouldn't have a job for me. As a people we have paid a very high price in the aftermath of 9/11 and it seems to go on and on, but every year on this anniversary, even in the sadness, our collective resolve rises again.
It is true, we will NEVER forget 9/11, nor will we ever roll over for the cowards who still hide throughout the world to prey on unsuspecting, innocent people all in the name of their made-up god. I choose to do what Jesus taught us to do and pray for these misguided enemies and call on our Father to eliminate their fanatical hatred. It's not about religion anyway, its always been about the politics.
GOD BLESS AMERICA. HALLELUJAH!