9/11/01 Then and Now Part 2 of 3 parts
As we watched in a shared state of shock, the horror was broken by tales of heroism and honor. In the midst of the devastation, there were actually some bright spots. Not to lessen the importance of the rest, it is worth our while, now, over a decade later, to remember some of those bright moments.
The Bright Spots
We sat by helplessly as the planes hit the World Trade Center in New York City, and then circled Washington, D.C. before hitting the Pentagon. There was a 4th plane over Pennsylvania. We'll never know for sure what it's intended target was, but the passengers prevented the terrorists from succeeding!
They’d been delayed leaving, so passengers on board heard from family members via cell phones about the other planes. All planes were directed to return to the nearest airport, but they could tell that they weren’t following that direction. The crew and passengers realized that they were being hijacked and would be used the same way the other planes were.
Knowing they were going to die either way, they took action in order to prevent even more deaths. They stormed the cockpit and crashed the plane into a field. Yes, it was certain death, but they died knowing that their plane wouldn’t be used as a bomb on whatever the target was.
After the initial reports were shared, countless tales of bravery and kindness surfaced.
While almost 3000 people died, many times that survived. One positive example is the Morgan Stanley Company. They had 3500 employees, yet lost only 10.
Survivors shared stories about people going down the stairwells of the World Trade Center, not panicking or fighting, but going calmly. Those that struggled were helped by others.
People with boats helped countless people get out of the area by water. Some made trip after trip ferrying people to safety. Even days later, people passed out food and water to those needing it. Emergency workers across the country came in the weeks to follow to relieve the weary in the rescue efforts. Some departments even donated equipment to replace things that had been lost.
In addition to the acts of kindness and heroism displayed during the tragedy, there were other stories shared, other bright moments. Because it was the first day of school, there were fewer people at work as parents came in late in order to take children to school. It was also a primary voting day, so that kept a few people from arriving in time. There were stories of people that overslept, or got caught in traffic, or had other “mishaps” that caused them to be late. Because of this, they weren’t there when the planes hit and were saved.
People all over the country were affected as well. Some communities sent volunteers to help. But another positive by-product was the change in attitudes. Families realized that they were so focused on material things that loved ones might have been ignored. Many turned to their faith again.
The night of the attacks, President George W. Bush said, "Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve."
One of the most endearing results was the sense of unity and patriotism in the country. Suddenly, political parties were ignored as people worked together on a common goal of restoring our country.
The picture above shows members of Congress singing, “God Bless America,” on the steps of the Capital. Not Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, but Americans.
I’m glad we’ve survived since then, and even though we were attacked, we showed a resolve as Americans to overcome. Where is that determination now? Is it possible for us to ever return to that bi-partisan support?
Hopefully, someday the good things that happened on 9/11 will resurface, as the country moves past divisions of politics, race, religion, and other issues.
Part One: Loss of an Attitude
Part Three: Beware! There are Terrorists Among Us!