OPINON: Still haven't forgotten 9/11/01

Hard to believe it’s been eight years.
Few of us will forget where we were when we heard the news. I was visiting a friend’s office at Ole Miss when one of her coworkers read a blurb on the Internet that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. Without further details, we assumed a lone pilot in a small plane had either had a heart attack or had decided to commit suicide in a public way.
By the time I got to my next scheduled stop, the Oxford-Lafayette Chamber of Commerce staff members were glued to the TV.
Hundreds were already dead from the crashes. Far more would die. Fear and outrage competed for our focus.
The first tower had already fallen, and we watched the second one tumble, thinking no one within blocks could survive that tsunami of choking dust. Soon, reports came in of another plane hitting the Pentagon. Thousands of planes from ocean to ocean scrambled to find a place to land.
When one plane ignored the orders to land and was headed toward Washington, I screamed, as though the nation’s leaders were waiting for my direction, “Shoot it down! Shoot it down!”
We were both horrified and grateful when United Flight 93 disappeared from radar. It was only later we learned of its heroic passengers who wrested control from the terrorists and plunged themselves into that western Pennsylvania field.
Shortly afterward, I was scrambling to get man-in-the-street reactions. That cowardly act provoked some raw emotions even this far away: I’ll never forget talking to a man who was genuinely concerned that his workplace, a New Albany factory, would be the next target.
We’ll all look back at times today. Some will “tsk,tsk” our efforts to retaliate. Others will wonder whether our efforts might have been aimed at better targets.
No matter our politics, any of us who are honest will have to say, “It hasn’t happened again. Not in this country. Thank God.”
Still, most of us will spend most of the day in our normal routines – going to school or work, spending time with out families, maybe going to a football game. Folks of several bents told us after 9/11 that living our lives freely would keep the terrorists from winning.
I’ll be attending the Hummingbird Migration Festival in Holly Springs (strawberryplains.audubon.org). I can’t think of any more delightful antidote to the horrors of 9/11/01 than spending the day with thousands of God’s little winged jewels.

Contact Daily Journal Oxford Bureau reporter Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or errol.castens@djournal.com. Read his blog at NEMS360.com.

Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal