September 11th, 2010

Tangled: Sun


Nine years ago, Mike and I were finishing up our one year anniversary vacation at Walt Disney World.  We were set to fly out of Orlando International Airport at 10:00am on 9/11/01.  For some reason, before we were ready to check out of the hotel, Mike turned on the TV at about 8:50ish in the morning (we hadn't watched any TV all week long.)  It was on NBC (it's weird the details we remember, isn't it?) and the sight of the first tower, with smoke gushing out of it, greeted us.  

We watched, in shock, for a few minutes until we watched as the second plane crashed into the second tower.  It was like watching a movie, it seemed so surreal.  I remember Katie Couric saying something about what a terrible accident that two planes would crash into the towers and Mike and I turning to each other saying "there's no way that was an accident."  I called my mom after that, waking her up, and told her to turn on the news.  Then, the FAA said that all planes were grounded.  I remember going to the lobby at the hotel and telling the clerk what had happened, in a quiet tone, and told her we would have to extend our stay.  I think I was the first person to talk to her about it.  She went in the back and talked to her lead and came out and said things would be taken care of.

They closed down the parks...everyone was so scared.  But I will say this, Disney did do their best to make sure that the children weren't frightened.  They had music and food and characters in the lobby and pool area.  In that time of absolute horror, there was something calming about the fact that the children, even though they weren't ours, around us could be at ease.

I will never forget the images of the people on the TV, frantically looking around for their loved ones. Or they shell-shocked looks as they wandered around the streets.  Or the sight of the towers collapsing.  Or the numerous (false) stories that were coming out that day. Or the hours we spent in front of the TV, desperately wanting to know what was really going on. 

We, as Americans, were helpless and scared...but we would not let that break our spirit.  The Bush bullhorn speech on 9/14 encapsulates that spirit. And it is that attitude that makes me proud to be an American.  We have differences, but we love and respect the rights and freedoms that we have.  After 9/11, there was a time where it didn't matter if you were Republican or Democrat, gay or straight, man or woman.  We were Americans and we were united. 

Our 9/11 story is so not tragic compared to those who were in New York that day.  We were on one of the first planes that left Orlando...the flight was so eerily silent.  Lots of people hitting up the liquor.  But, we got home and were safe.  But, I'll tell you, thinking about that day, the sheer panic of the people, still causes me to tear up (and for logical girl like me, that's saying a lot) and get goosebumps.

I, for one, will never forget.