Sunday, September 11, 2016

34, 11/22, 9/11

One day when my father was 34 years old, he left work early to surprise my mother on their seventh wedding anniversary.  On his way home, he stopped at a florist and purchased a dozen roses.  After leaving the florist, he switched on the radio of his 1963 Ford Galaxie and shortly thereafter heard a news flash from Dallas announcing that President Kennedy had been shot and seriously wounded.  He hit the gas pedal and raced home.  My mother greeted my father with a tearful embrace as Walter Cronkite announced that the President had died.  My parents and my sisters sat in front of the television for much of that weekend – never leaving the house.  The flowers my father bought had been left in the passenger seat – where they withered and died over the course of the weekend.  The date was November 22, 1963 - a day my parents would never forget.     

One morning when I was 34 years old, I left my home to head for work.  I switched on the radio of my 1997 Saturn SL2 and heard an ongoing news report that a plane had crashed into one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York.  As my car merged into traffic on I-480, I heard that another plane had struck the other tower.  As I arrived from work, I raced past my coworkers, shouting the news to them as I headed to my office and switched on the TV.  My colleagues gathered in front of the TV as updates came in: multiple hijackings; a third plane had crashed into the Pentagon; the FAA suspended all takeoffs; the South Tower collapsed; a fourth plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania; then the North Tower fell.  Driving past Hopkins airport that night, the usual line of planes approaching to land was gone, replaced with eerie stillness.  The date was September 11, 2001 - a day my friends and I would never forget.