After a confused and slightly panicked phone call from my husband on September 11, 2001, I turned on CNN and didn’t turn it off for the next three weeks. I was alone and watching live when the plane went into the second building. While thousands streamed on foot away from the unfolding disaster, thousands more stood and watched, all reflecting the uncomprehending face of disaster too large to take in.
Flights heading to the USA were diverted to eastern Canada, where much of my family lives. I feared my loved ones were so diminished as to be acceptable losses if other terrorists were on those flights. The Pentagon attack followed with reports of the plane crash in Shanksville, raised the sense of fear.
The devastation of thousands was paraded as they searched in disbelief and hope.
Rare joy was reflected in stories of people reconnected, having been thought dead.
Comfort was found in humanizing stories of those deplaned far from home. They were billeted and embraced by strangers who fed them and prayed with them. Strangers became family in time of need.
I feel I am changed for having watched a live television event featuring the death of thousands. Our generation has no Pearl Harbor or Beaches of Normandy to help us deal with the day’s unfolding terror. We now live day-to-day with the knowledge that we are in a war we cannot see, even as we watch it on live TV.
Donald Rumseld (of all people) echoed my exact thought on that long September day.
And He will raise you up on eagles’ wings
Bear you on the breath of dawn
Make you to shine like the sun
And hold you in the palm of His hand.