By Delbert H. Rhodes
The early morning of September 11, 2001, a voice from my radio shakes me awake. Sleepy but listening: The Twin Towers in New York City have suffered attacks. Airplanes have crashed into the top floors of towers ‘A,’ and ‘B’ and the buildings are aflame.
Listening to the unbelievable tale, I recall the dream, the events are exact; I become transfixed and then consumed by dread. Feelings of death shroud me and I burst into tears. For endless moments childishly, I cry.
Somehow I feel that I am to blame. Naturally, one is never at fault for occurrences in one’s dreams, still a world of sadness embraces me. I could not rush to the Television; though I own one, there in my living room it sits but without service. Therefore, I continue to listen to the Newscast. My face awash with tears I am bathed by sheer disbelief.
For the first time in my life or ever, the Homeland has been attacked by an outside force. According to the reports the planes were crashed into the towers by Islamic terrorists. Later, and on my computer screen, my eyes view images of the burning buildings. The most disturbing images are of people standing and staring from large holes in the wounded towers. Without avenues of escape they peer below at a blanket of concrete.
Large plumes of smoke brush the sky like dark feathery stains flying to unkown places. Places more sanitized more gracious and less violated than the mortal edifices. Frame by frame images of the site and surrounding neighborhood freeze the frenzy and confusion of harried people. People rush away others slow for a look over the shoulder catching fleeting glimpses even photographs of the tragedy; their faces masking disbelief and horror.
A friend emails me photos taken by someone in the strike zone. The photos revisit what I had previously witnessed online. After some time I delete the photographs, they are simply too disturbing. Though the photos are gone the terrible imprints are permanently planted in my mind. Some details have dulled; though and forever, the feelings are clouds of clarity.
During the time of the attacks I reside in Louisiana. In 2003 I return home to New York. Here: Soon I watch televised accounts of the incidents. Witnessing people trapped and with no way out, jumping to escape fire and smoke inhalation, feels like blunt nails piercing my heart. These poor innocents forced to take their lives; freeing them of torturous flames and burning lungs, these surrendering souls hurling themselves from the buildings to forever dream of their last moments. Without options and completely distraught: Suicide their LAST ACT represents (indeed) a COURAGEOUS ACT.
Selfless firefighters and police bravely rush in risking surrendering offering their lives to save the lives of helpless strangers. These and other images are shocking and painful though numbing.
What would I do, and could I welcome death’s embrace, saving me from the ravages of melting skin lungs and bones.
Today and fourteen years after the attacks the sadness the hurt the pain and the losses are vivid and powerful. Though (to my knowledge) I lost no family or friends that terrible day, still as an American I too lost. WE LOST.
September 11, 2001; the lives stolen; the wounded families, friends, and loved ones; the unyielding sacrificial acts of (the) heroes, and the heroic losses of that day should never be forgotten.
May God Bless and Keep Them (Always):
“For Us All”
WHOM NO LONGER CAN,
LET US CRY
WHOM NEVER WILL,
FOR THEM WE PRAY
WHOM HAVE FORGOTTEN,
LET US REMEMBER
FOR YOU FOR THEM FOR ME
FOR US ALL
Copyright © 2005-2014 Delbert H. Rhodes