My mom tells the story of the moment she heard that JFK was shot. She laughed. She is still horrified of her response, but she thought it was probably a hunting accident and he got shot in the leg with a BB.
That response runs in our family. Call us Pollyannas, we expect the best of people and, well, we expect people to do stupid things, also.
Five years ago I had two babies under the age of one. I hadn't watched TV in months but regularly tuned in to the local Christian radio station. When the announcer broke in and said someone flew an airplane into the World Trade Center, I laughed. Okay, really it was a snicker.
"Idiot doesn't know how to fly and flew his dinky private prop plane into the towers." I'm thinking the idiot probably died, not much else.
Of course moments later, they were saying it looked like a passenger plane. I curbed my thoughts of the "idiot" and began to feel sorry for the passengers on the plane. The enormity of what had begun still eluded me.
Plane number two hit. The radio guy said, "There are planes all over they sky flying into buildings! Turn off the radio and turn on the TV!" I obeyed.
I watched in horror for a while, but not long. I still didn't get it.
I went to the gym. Typical American. I had a routine, I stuck to it. Baby fat to lose and all. I stood on the treadmill and watched the horror unfold.
And I prayed.
But by then I was getting it. I kept waiting for the next strike. Towers falling. Pentagon in flames. And a downed plane in Pennsylvania. I didn't want to leave the gym in case something else happened in the five minutes it would take me to drive home.
I stayed glued to the TV for days. When my son turned one, we flipped off the tv long enough for him to blow out his candle and then it was back on.
Do you remember how blue the sky was when no planes could fly? Not a cloud in sight.
Just a lone lasso where the last jet turned a 180 and landed.
Where were you?
I know I'll never forget. I remember the color of the chair and exactly where I was within the room. I remember the relief in my sister's voice when I got through to her. I remember the astonishment in my other sisters voice when I called to tell her sister 1 was okay. She hadn't seen a thing. I told her to just trust me and turn on the tv. I may be a pampered American, but I won't forget. And I'll be flying the flag high.
God Bless America.