There are times, in all our lives, when an event so large, so memorable, and so life-altering occurs, that ever after we will recall exactly where we were, and what we were doing, when the paradigm shifted.
My earliest memory, from age 4 1/2, is the funeral of President Kennedy, a memory etched in granite because I somehow remember my mother sitting before the television and crying. I recall where I was sitting, and what our family room looked like, in the middle of the night when the Eagle of Apollo 11 first touched down on the Moon. I was in a DisneyWorld motel, interested in politics at a young age, and watching live as President Nixon resigned in '74 while my parents and baby sister enjoyed the rides in the park. When my childhood dreams of space travel died in 1986 alongside the crew of the space shuttle Challenger, I was watching the launch in the lobby of the University of Wisconsin veterinary school next to the students and the NASA-obsessed Dean. When Columbia failed to survive reentry into the womb of Earth's atmosphere, I was listening on the radio, driving to Topeka with my son to buy a jewelry cabinet as a Valentine's Day present for Mrs. ProfessorRoush.
And yes, I remember, and will as long as I draw breath, the moments of the morning of 9/11/01. I was in my office, early on a Tuesday, a surgery morning for me, when a buzz rose from the adjacent client lobby of the veterinary school. Coming out, I saw the small TV in the lobby tuned to the national news, news-anchors just starting to try to explain the video of smoke coming from the World Trade Center, long before we knew about the Pentagon attack or about Flight 93. I saw the live video as the second plane hit. When the first tower fell, at 8:59 a.m. CST, many in the room missed it, but my surgeon's eyes saw the floors drop away into the dust cloud and I knew instantly that hundreds, if not thousands, were gone. And I remember the days following, glued to the news every spare moment, until it was finally undeniable that the nightmare was real.
All those lost, the innocent souls in the Towers and planes and the Pentagon, and all the brave men and women who tried to rescue them, I like to think of and pray for them all now as bright Kansas sunflowers shining in Heaven, surrounded by a blue Kansas sky, the same clear blue sky that is said to have been over New York on that day long past. It's a simplistic view of Heaven, I know, but I can think of none better or more perfect. The peak Fall bloom of the Common Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) along the Kansas roadsides is forever linked to my memories of September 11, 2001, because I saw them each day, as I drove safely here in the Heartland to and from work, while America mourned our dead.
And as for the murderers, the subhuman scum who caused the wanton destruction and loss of life ten years ago today, I know that this is not a very kind or noble thought, particularly from a gardener who is trying his best to follow a good path through Life, but I hope those cowards are rotting in Hell, in the driest and hottest desert without water or food, with scavengers ripping at them every second. No, I haven't forgotten, nor have I forgiven.
Addendum: I noticed that my blog friend Hanna, of This Garden Is Illegal, has also blogged about September 11th. I want to publicly applaud and acknowledge her husband's service and the sacrifice her family is making for our freedom. Join me to pray for his safety and quick return.