The tenth anniversary of that horrific day in American history, the day our country was attacked by terrorists, has come and gone. We watched the memorial ceremonies in fascination as people told stories of lives saved, losses suffered and the ways others have helped them heal and forgive. There were many heartfelt tributes to those who led others to safety, treated injuries or searched for survivors, strangers who put aside their own fears to provide kindness to fellow citizens.
On September 11, 2001, those of us who were far away from the site of the tragedies followed it all in wide-eyed disbelief. Television provided a window through which we watched the terrifying events as planes crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and a field in rural Pennsylvania. Air traffic controllers were desperately trying to ground all air traffic while firefighters and policemen were disappearing into the towering infernos, many of them hurrying to their own deaths. Newscasters were trying to keep us abreast of what was happening without spreading panic. At the same time they were fighting back their own emotions and fears, not sure what all of this meant.
Our family knew none of the individuals who died, suffered injuries or who escaped or helped others escape the fires in the Pentagon or the World Trade Center or who lost their lives in one of the planes. And yet, we felt a personal connection with them. Ordinary people, hurrying to their workplaces, or waiting on tables or organizing a desk for the day, none of whom had any idea what a turning point in their lives and that of their loved ones was minutes away. Ordinary people were thrown into a situation that forced extraordinary measures.
It is not unusual for our adult children to board planes to fly to distant places as a part of their jobs. They don't always tell mom and dad about the trips prior to their leaving. They are adults and if we want to know what is going on, they are always just a phone call away. Most of them have the cell phone within easy reach at all times. I thought of that when we heard the warnings that there may be other planes being hijacked that day. I thought of it but did not dwell on it.
Only after it was all over did I learn how close we came to having a family member in the scenes we watched on television that morning. One of our sons had been told by his company earlier in the year that he and several other employees of the engineering firm he works for were being sent to a meeting to be held in New York City at the World Trade Center. The date set for the meeting was September 11, 2001. They would fly from Kansas City to New York City at the company's expense. He was excited about the prospect of the trip and going to the twin towers.
Then, before we heard about the possible trip, he was disappointed to learn it was being cancelled. Some of the firm's expected contracts did not go through. The income for the summer months was going to be below what was anticipated. The trip was deemed an unnecessary extravagance when money was tight.
We marvel when we realize because of the change in plans our son's life may have been saved, or at the very least, he was spared the trauma suffered by everyone at the World Trade Center on that fateful day in September, 2001. Little did he know that the disappointment he felt when hearing the trip had been cancelled was in reality a great blessing. Our family's story came very close to being much different than what it is and all because of a shortage of money.