September 11. 2001 was a Tuesday. On Tuesdays, we used to have to close the park from 2pm until close. So we would usually get up a little late, cook some breakfast, go run some errands then get in to work sometime after lunch. On 9/11/01, we got up and turned the television on while we cooked breakfast. The picture above was similar to the first scene we saw. We had absent-mindedly turned the tube on and walked back into the kitchen, only to come out to peer at the screen when we heard the morning news hosts on whatever channel we had turned on explaining the pictures we were seeing were where a plane of some sort had struck the north tower of the World Trade Center.
As we sat there looking on in bewilderment trying to figure out how in the hell a little commuter plane could cause the type of damage the video on screen seemed to be showing, we saw a second plane (which was obviously a jetliner) strike the South Tower.
For the rest of the day, until we went in to work, we sat glued to the tv, watching it all unfold. When we got to the park, one of our assistant managers had hooked up one of the prize tvs in Redemption and had it on the news. We recall sitting there throughout the afternoon and evening and watching the coverage with employees and customers alike. It was a surreal experience.
Oddly enough, one of our strongest memories of that time, is several months later when President Bush came to the Greenville area. We remember standing down at the shop past all the tracks and Air Force One flying in right over the park. We remember distinctly thinking, "Holy shit...planes never come in this low over us here," and wondering if it was some kind of evasive routing to make it harder if some terrorist was sitting around with a Stinger looking to take out our CINC.
A lot has changed in this country over the last 10 years. Personally, we think 9/11 played a major role in our decision to go back to school. The general mood that tragic day placed on everyone, one of taking stock of our lives and figuring out what was really important, led us to decide to go back to school in the hope of trading for a career that would let us be around friends and family more. Within a year, we were in law school and moving back to Florence upon graduation.
"Never forget" has been the national slogan for 9/11. Conventional wisdom is it means for us not to forget the lives that were lost to a senseless act of terrorism, the sacrifice of those who gave their lives to try to save others and the sacrifice of those who put their lives on the line every day so that the rest of us can enjoy the freedom and lives we have today.
We wish everyone would interpret the slogan to remember the incredible sense of unity this country had on that day and in the days, weeks and months that followed. We have become a bitterly divided country in the decade since. The truth of it is, we have not lived up to that motto.
As a country, we have forgot, as best summed up by this cartoon our pal Reino posted over on SC6:
The vitriol and blind, closed-minded hatred that has infected political discourse in this country is a much bigger threat to this country than any radical, fundamentalist religious belief could ever be. Here's to hoping we can somehow overcome that in the next decade.
GOD BLESS AMERICA, THOSE WHO FIGHT TO PRESERVE HER AND THOSE WHO WORK TO MAKE HER STRONGER.