A Day To Remember
The Quilters Were A Blessing To Me
September 11, 2001
I wanted to feel the comfort of shared grief. The quilters were a blessing to me.
Standing before the television getting my last look at the news before beginning the day, I couldn’t comprehend the scene before me.
A large plane had flown into the World Trade Center in New York City and completely disappeared. Smoke and flames were billowing out at a point six stories from the top of the building. The remnants of the plane had not appeared on the other side. It didn’t make sense.
I knew I wasn’t watching a video or a re-run. How could this have happened?
I called to my husband who was working outside. “Come in here and look at this.”
As we stood together before the television, another large plane appeared and flew into the second tower, not emerging on the other side, causing an explosion of smoke and fire.
As the day progressed, a tower collapsed and disintegrated into the ground sending unbelievable amounts of soot and smoke racing through the narrow streets.
Hundreds were running away in an effort to escape the terrible scene.
An event, which I have never viewed, although I know it was captured by cameras, shows thousands of people jumping from the fire in the buildings to their deaths on the ground. I cannot bring myself to look at it.
It was reported that 400 police officers and fire fighters were killed while attempting to rescue as many as possible from the blazing buildings. These brave men led many to safety. They are heroes. This is America. Tragedies such as this don’t happen here.
As the day wore on, I couldn’t draw away from the events before me. I felt fear and a heavy sadness for what was happening in New York. How could anyone living in the United States of America believe this could be possible?
Thousands of people had gone to work that morning and would never return to their loved ones. How do we accept such an event except through fear and confusion and sadness.
Later, as the hours passed, a report was given that a passenger plane was down. Flight 93, had crashed and disintegrated in a field in Pennsylvania. Forty unbelievably brave passengers attempted to take over the plane. All were killed as they tried to retrieve control from the terrorists.
We remember them as heroes.
A report was given that a fourth plane with 184 passengers aboard had flown into the Pentagon. Many were killed. The scenes before me could not be denied. It was reported Fight 93 had been destined to destroy the White House, but because of the actions of the passengers the plane had crashed into that empty field.
That night our church, which will hold 300 people, held a prayer meeting. Every available place was filled. This was the beginning of a new awareness. There are people who hate us because we exist. They hate us so much that they willingly die in order to kill as many of us in this country as possible.
I felt a strong need to reach out to people far away. I wanted to feel the comfort of shared grief. How could I accomplish that? I had recently developed a hobby of quilting and I discovered a program on the Internet designed for exchanging quilt materials. I was to choose a listed name and address and send twenty-four two-inch pieces of material in a variety of colors, which would be sown into a quilt. I should send mine to them and they in turn would send theirs to me. Along with the material, the guidelines suggested that I also send a little note about myself, where I lived and briefly about my life.
I received exchanges from every state in the union and one from Israel. Eventually there were enough squares to make a full sized quilt covering both sides. As I opened each package I felt warmly connected to these women I would never meet. I felt strengthened knowing that their hands had prepared the material, which I now held in my hands. The quilters were a blessing to me.
I was sixty-six years of age. My life would never be the same. I could not let the evil that exists in the world change me as a person or as a citizen of the United States of America. The events of September 11, 2001 have been burned into the minds of those of us who witnessed it.
To many of our youth, that September day is only a piece of history. It may be likened to the story of the First World War, Viet Nam, or the Korean War. The difference is that this happened in the United States of America in the twenty-first century. It didn’t happen under the leadership of George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. It didn’t happen when presidents Theodore Roosevelt or Harry Truman held the office of president. It happened under the administration of the forty-third president of the United States of America, George W. Bush.
To President Bush, in office for less than one year, fell the responsibility of dealing with a people who hate us and consider our very existence to be an affront to their god. It fell to him to comfort those who were frightened and grief stricken.
This isn’t the world in which I grew up. Could I have imagined a foreign nation taking the lives of 3000 people on a fair September morning in New York? Would I have believed I would be a witness while standing before a television in my home as it was happening? The answer is no.
We must never forget.
September 11, 2016
The memories are still vivid. Tears come quickly. I will not forget.