We were living overseas. It was a normal fall day of my senior year of high school. We were having volleyball practice and I remember I was having such a good day. Blocking and hitting really well. And then, all our coaches phones starting ringing at once. I didn’t even notice at first, I was so excited about having some free time to scrimmage and more time to practice.
But something was off. Our coaches didn’t come back. We were playing for a while now and no one even cared. They started talking to each other in the gym corner. Calling more people. I remember thinking how odd it was that they all were so concerned with their phones rather than practice. And it was odd that all of them had more important personal business to attend to. I had heard something about an “accident” in the states. A plane crash. What was the big deal? Plane crashes are sad, but they happen all the time. Something about a security alert. Very hush hush, they wanted to get everyone away from the American school, a target, without worrying us. We were bussed home soon after, past the guards with machine guns.
By the time we got home we turned on AFN and watched the footage. A plane had crashed into the skyscraper, that didn’t seem like an accident. Two planes. Planes crashing elsewhere and the Pentagon. So close to home. My uncle worked there. My dad had worked there before we moved. We watched all into the night. I remember knowing the world changed.
We were on heightened security afterwards and had school canceled for the following days. We had a curfew. If we tried to lay low before, we for sure didn’t tell people we were Americans now. I do remember wondering what it was like to live in America during this time. They told us we were targets, living abroad. But that attack was on our ground. I almost felt safer being away.
During mass today, after an amazing homily about forgiveness from our Father – which he tied into personal forgiveness as well as forgiveness for our national enemies, we were saying the Our Father when we started to hear a plane. The engine grew louder and louder as the plane flew closer as we prayed. It felt like it was right over our heads, aimed right for our church with all the windows and doors open. I saw panic in the eyes of the altar servers and one even tried to run. Other people in the pews started crossing themselves and you could almost feel the panic of those around us. The sound drowned out our praying but we kept on with the words. The thoughts actually crossed my mind “What if this is it?” Immediately followed by the thought “there is not better place to be” and I braced myself and kept praying.
The plane passed, we finished the prayer and you could hear mumbles as people breathed sighs of relief all around us during the sign of peace. At the end of mass Father mentioned the event and reminded us that during events of war it seems like our prayers are drowned out by the noises of violence and war but we must keep praying. Love and forgiveness is the only thing that can conquer hate. It was surreal.
We later found out it was a flyover for a memorial celebration nearby.
What a way to commemorate 9-11 and give everyone heart attacks.
Where were you 10 years ago?