This is the month for remembering 9/11. If we’re old enough we have a memory of that day. I was flying standby from Minneapolis to Anchorage to meet a new grandson born a week earlier. The plane landed only a few hours before the attack on the World Trade Center. I was sound asleep when the phone rang — my husband calling to tell us to turn on the television. He said something like, “Life as we know it has changed.”
That grandson just had his seventeenth birthday. And life has changed. It changed on the spot for those who lost their lives. For ones who lost friends and family. For those others who were there. The rest of us — most of us — grieved from afar. And we stayed home.
The return plane I boarded in Anchorage two weeks after 9/11 had all of five people on it. Wide open for a standby passenger like myself. Fear had stuck a dagger in the map. What would happen next? Where would the next stab be?
Fear held a “companion ticket” — suspicion. Airports and other venues began screening luggage and purses and backpacks. With time even those fresh mountain spring water bottles became sinister. Once my fiberglass cast caused an airport security disruption. Nothing in there but a broken wrist.
Yes, life changed. Because the United States of America had to get good in a hurry at being on guard in a place we usually didn’t notice. We had to look within.
I wish it had been different. That even now we could trust each other. We saw how heroes ascended from the rubble that day. They came from within, too.
Fear and suspicion shocked us on Sept. 11, 2001. Anger and grief gripped us. Most of us concur with the need for added vigilance. But there’s just something in America that keeps rising up. From within. A belief that heroes are real. Are all around us. That good is here to stay. Invincible.
Just look at all the planes filled with all the people.