‘Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?’
"Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?
Were you in the yard with your wife and children
Or working on some stage in L.A.?"
Those words, written and sung by Alan Jackson, were his attempt to describe feelings and reactions to events for which there were no words - the events of September 11, 2001.
There are moments in this life, good and bad, that we remember all our lives, right down to the time and date and where we were when something took place that, one way or another, shook us to our core.
Personally, I remember where I was July 25, 1993, when I heard the East Hannibal levee had broken and the community where I grew up would soon be under water. I also remember where I was October 27, 2011, when David Freese hit the home run to end game six of the 2011 World Series.
I say all of this as we, individually and as a nation, reflect on the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the foiled attack on either the White House or the Capitol building - September 11, 2001.
So, where were you, "when the world stopped turning?" I was on my way to work at WLDS-WEAI Radio in Jacksonville, Illinois. When I arrived, the first plane had hit, and within a half hour, the second plane would hit and the third plane would slam into the Pentagon. All of us following events on the Associated Press wire were in a total state of disbelief. What our grandparents had experienced on December 7, 1941, we were experiencing on that day.
Once that initial reaction passes, we go about doing our jobs - covering the event, keeping our listeners informed. I had a half-hour talk show to do that morning, and it was first time I can ever remember having to physically take a moment to pull myself together before going on the air.
The images of that time, from the collapse of the World Trade Center, to first responders running toward the site while everyone else was running away, to the crash site of Flight 93 in Pennsylvania, to the flood of patriotism and resolve that came out of those events. For Cardinal fans, the poetry of Jack Buck when baseball resumed (Jack himself would leave us the next year).
What did we learn from the events of 9/11? Taking the high road, my take away is what we as a people can accomplish when we put aside our differences and come together for a common objective.
May we never forget, and never continue to learn from, the events of twenty years ago.