September 11, 2001 – where were you?

As our nation takes time to reflect on the past decade and how life has changed since September 11, 2001, I thought I would share where I was when I heard the terrible news and how it affected me and my family in the days to follow.

On September 11, I awoke to a chilly morning in the mountain city of Puebla, Mexico.  I had been there for several days.

I was there with a mission group of about 20 men, building a church in a poor neighborhood of the city.  Protestant churches are a rare sight in this nation that is dominated by Roman Catholicism. The people of Puebla were gracious hosts and they were most appreciative that we gave our time and toil to their little church.  It was a joy to be there.

Several of us had gotten very sick by then and we were told to stay at the hotel and rest. Shortly after I had fallen back to sleep there was a loud and relentless pounding on my door. My friend Kevin barged in as I opened the door and he ran to the television and turned in on. He was ranting about a plane hitting the Trade Tower in New York.   Just as we turned back to the screen, the second plane hit the other tower.  We were aghast.

We were thousands of miles from home and family, and in this grief and uncertainty we were also cut off from our fellow travelers, as they were a half-hour across the city working on the church. We sat there isolated from all we knew and we prayed for our nation and we prayed for our wives and kids who were so far away and out of communication as phone lines were jammed up.

Kids in the Puebla churchLater the gang returned from the mission and got cleaned up.  They told us that they didn’t get much work done.  When the news spread, all the locals rushed to the church to pray for and pray with the American Missionaries who had come to minister to them.

After everyone was refreshed we all went back to the church for a wonderful worship service. We all sang hymns in Spanish and the Mexican neighbors fed us and comforted us.

All planes were grounded, so our departure was delayed several days.  We flew from Mexico City to Dallas and we were the only people at the airport, we were one of the first flights to land there after the skies were open to travel.  When we arrived at Logan in the late night, the terminal was empty except for the passengers disembarking from our plane.  The airport was swarming with State Police wearing fatigues, armed with AR-15 rifles.  There were no cabs outside.  No buses either.  We stood there in the night with no traffic, no hustle, no bustle, as we waited for our limo to take us back home.

Though it was wonderful to get home and be reunited with Sue, I returned to a different country than the one I had left. That country I left is but a memory.

Where were you?

Chuck

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About saveourpond

I am a lifelong resident of Ayer who lives on Flanagan's Pond.
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4 Responses to September 11, 2001 – where were you?

  1. Patrick Hughes says:

    Since the passing of my father, a combat veteran of WWII a few days after 9/11 I have felt drawn to ask important question of myself. What I mean is wanting to express something of why this day had an effect on me.

    I attribute my passion for nature to my parents penchant for travel, camping as we crossed the county on family trips; but travel plans, besides national parks of purple mountain majesties or vistas of fruited plains always included places where former crew members lived from the B17 bomber my father flew on as the navigator, a bond with his fellow crew members so strong that decades later it was important for my father to see them, the boys, now men who shared that experience. I wish I had shared in that reminiscing but as a child it was a conversation over my head. One trip that does remain in my memories was a farmer in upstate New York, the man who piloted the plane to places my father directed them to. A chance to experience 2 days of hardworking farm life so different from the middle class realties I grew up in. I might have been able to participate in that conversation one more time as my Father was booked to fly out from California to visit me September 13, 2001 his first trip out since my mothers passing. Clearly that did not happen and when he called to cancel he said I don’t want to be shot at again and the next night he passed away. Our plans would have included a visit to his old friend on the farm in upstate New York. I have been left with the thought that that old fear contributed to his early passing.

    It is good we take a day to stop and take stock of our own anguish of fallen towers; hallowing the ground of the memories of 9/11 not only to honor those like my father’s crew or their brethren in the ten years since, but those as well who reported for a normal work day in New york that became anything but normal; a day that prevented that visit of old warriors

    My story is but a tiny (tiny) drop in a vast ocean of feeling and hurt that today has divided us from that dream of a more perfect union.. I hope we can pause in our remembrance of the events that unfolded a decade past. That our greatness as a nation is the sum of who we are and not what Al-Qaida would have split asunder.

    Patrick Hughes

  2. A Marine myself says:

    On this day I was at work but after the 1st plane hit the WTC and hearing about it a TV was turned on catching live the 2nd tower being hit. On this day more people were killed than when Pearl Harbor was attacked Dec 7, 1941. On this day the wheels were put in motion for a family member to be KIA in Iraq. I suggest this day be reserved to honor those whose life was taken at ground zero. But Memorial Day is the special day for my family and Veterans day is reserved for veterans including WWII. By the way my father a WWII USMC veteran served in the South Pacific during WWII and on the carrier Essex. I’ll honor him on 11/11 but not 9/11…

  3. A veteran says:

    I was at work and upon hearing about the attack a TV was turned on in time to catch the 2nd plane hitting the WTC. What a sight! About 3,000 were killed in this attack on America and the event put in motion the loss of over 6,000 additional Americans (to date) including a family member who was KIA in Iraq. I am not sure what WWII veterans have to do with 9/11 but my father also served during WWII in the USMC. He served in the South Pacific and was also on the carrier Essex. So let’s not confuse the dates and honor those whose lives were taken on 9/11 while we honor those whose lives were given on Memorial Day and honor our veterans on 11:11 11/11/11.

  4. A Marine myself says:

    sorry for the duplications, Wasn’t sure the posting made it. In any case 9/11 should be forever etched in our minds and in my opinion changed the world and not just fo those whose lives were taken.

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