Sunday, September 11, 2011


by Earl Staggs

Dallas, Texas. A hotel conference room. An orientation meeting with an insurance company I had just joined.

There were about forty of us in the room. We were watching a video presentation when one of the insurance company executives entered the room, flicked on the lights, and stopped the video.

“A plane has just crashed into the World Trade Center,” he announced.

Stunned silence. No one in the room spoke or moved for several seconds. A guy at the table in front of me turned around and smirked. Then I got it. Some idiot in a two-seater Piper Cub lost control, fell asleep or something, and ran his little propeller through a window of the skyscraper. I smirked back.

“It’s on TV in the next room,” the guy at the front said.

We all followed him next door to a similar room, except this one had a TV hanging on the wall. We needed a break. The video we’d been watching was a real schnoozer.

I wasn’t expecting the scene I saw on the TV screen. My first thought was someone made a mistake. We were looking at a scene from a disaster movie, a science fiction thriller, or an alien invasion epic.

It took a while for the reality to sink in. This was real. This really happened. In America. In New York City.

We spent the rest of the morning watching the news. Some scenes were forever etched in my memory. A crowd of people in the street, being chased by an enormous dust cloud when the first tower fell. The second plane hitting the second tower. Police officers and firefighters covered with chalky dust trying to establish order in an incredible, unbelievable chaos.

For the rest of that day and several days afterward, I was glued to the news as the rest of the tragedy played out. The pentagon damage. The plane going down in Pennsylvania. I’ll never forget the wall where people posted pictures of missing loved ones.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “A day which will live in infamy.” He was talking about December 7, l941, of course, when Pearl Harbor was attacked. That phrase also applies to November 22, 1963, when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. It applies to September 11, 2001.

Those dates will stay forever in the minds of every American, not only as tragedies, but as reminders. We have built an incredible nation, one that leads the world in so many ways. We can never forget, though, that we still live in a world of other nations with different philosophies and ideologies. We have to keep in mind always that no matter what we build and accomplish on our own soil, we cannot become so complacent as to think we are safe from atrocity.

It has happened before. It can happen again.

Where were you ten years ago today?


Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I was home. Someone called on the phone to tell us to turn on the TV. Shocking, horrifying, unbelievable. Truly changed our world.


Jean Henry Mead said...

I was also home, watching TV, drinking my morning cup of chai tea, taking a brief break from my writing day. I momentarily thought the entire country was under attack. It must have been ESP that I happened to turn on the TV at that time, which I normally don't do in the morning. To say I was horrified is a gross understatement.

Mike Dennis said...

I was in Las Vegas. I got up late that day, so I didn't hear about it till around 10:30 AM Pacific time. Las Vegas Boulevard, aka the Strip, which is usually jammed with traffic day and night, was virtually empty. I did 60 mph down that street on that day.

The MGM Grand, which was considering closing for the day (unheard of in Las Vegas), was nearly empty as well. Only the occasional ding of a distant slot machine could be heard on the cavernous casino floor.

Kaye Barley said...

I was in my office at Appalachian State University.

I was reading, getting my dose of news as the "news junkie" I was back then. stalled out and I thought it was our servers. When it came back up the picture on my screen was one of the towers smoking and the headline about an airplane flying into it. Confused, I kept trying to get the page to "refresh." finally I realized something was terribly, terribly wrong.

I called Donald and I called my Mom. And then I stayed glued for too many days in front of the TV. Today I haven't been able to even bring myself to turn on the TV. I have, of course, tried to write about it and can't do that very well either.

This is lovely, Earl. We do, indeed, need to remember.

Hugs, my friend.

Anonymous said...

I was running an errand and thought it was a tasteless joke by the morning DJs, didn't believe it until my favorite bank teller told me.

Mark Troy said...

My boss stopped by my office and told me he'd heard from someone else. Like you, we thought it was some doofus in a single engine. Then we heard that a second plane had hit the other tower and we knew this was an attack. I was glued to the radio after that.

Morgan Mandel said...

I juwt got to work when I saw one of the attorneys looking at the World Trade Center on my very small portable TV. An hour or so later they let us go home. The trains were extremely crowded. Everyone left work that day.

Morgan Mandel

Earl Staggs said...

Thanks to everyone who shared their memories of that day. Let's never forget it and let's hope it never happens again.

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