By Marsha M. Brown
When you’re a writer at heart it isn’t hard to do just that…write. Sometimes when I lay down at night I reflect on the events of the day or the week or the eleven o’clock news just minutes before bed.
I look at my sweet patriotic husband who loves this country so much and I embrace the blessing that God put him in my life. That big ole’ teddy bear of a guy inspired me to honor not only his service to our country but all who serve. Because of him I vow to do all I can to acknowledge, promote and thank veterans for the rest of my life. His love and respect for our military and those who protect our nation is sincere and our 44 years together is what motivated me to write GIG LINE.
In anticipation of September 11, 2001 I recalled exactly what I was doing that unforgettable day. Like most of you, I was frozen in time and in place. The news was too unimaginable to comprehend – too unbelievable to accept.
When I first heard our country was under attack, I was at work in my real estate office in Salvo. The first word was that the first Twin Tower had been crashed into. Initially I thought like most people that it must have been engine trouble or maybe a high jacking but not a terrorist…right? Then the second tower was hit. Then, as the events unfolded, it became obvious that it was an intentional, sinister act of terrorism.
That eventful morning our daughter Bonnie was flying to Phoenix, Arizona to attend a conference in Scottsdale. At the time she and another lady, who also served on the Board of Directors of the Wesley Hospitality House in Elizabeth City, (an establishment much like the Ronald McDonald House), were en route to a conference on non profit organizations. Hearing the news, I tried to call her cell but it just went to voice mail. I tried again and again, same thing. Then, I reached for the phone to call Billy, but before I could dial him, he was calling me. My throat felt like I had swallowed a golf ball when I said, “Billy, what about Bonnie?” “She’s somewhere in the air Billy and I can’t get her on her cell!”
We knew she had several layovers on the way to Phoenix but we had no idea where she might be at the time the news was breaking…was she in the air? Was she in New York? Her flight was originally scheduled for September 10th out of Raleigh but because there was an accident on the Interstate they missed it and it was rescheduled for September 11th.
Bad news kept coming of the deliberate crash into the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania crash. My throat felt like a fist was squeezing it. I could hardly talk. I tried to compose myself in the work place but all I could do was cry. I wanted only to hear her voice and know that she was alright. My office extension rang repeatedly with friends and family calling who also knew Bonnie was flying that morning. They, too, were anxious to make sure she was safe.
Billy and I stopped everything we were doing to pray for our daughter; our son prayed for his sister; our son in law and grandson prayed for Bonnie and our best friend started a prayer chain. Repeatedly dialing Bonnie’s cell, one of us was bound to reach her but, it just kept going to voice mail. As the minutes passed, Billy and I were on the phone back and forth. He’d call me to offer news updates trying to calm me down and reassure me that our Bonnie was OK.
Finally after hours…another attempt and the sweetest voice I ever heard was on the other end…it was Bonnie. She was alright. She had just landed at the Chicago Midway Airport…everything, she said, was chaotic. She had been trying to call us but the circuits had been jammed and the airport public phones were inundated with people waiting to use them. She said they hadn’t heard anything on the flight but that a man standing close by was very emotionally upset not realizing why. Then, when airport personnel told them to “Get out!” of the airport and to get a taxi to an offsite car rental company as soon as possible, they knew the gentleman’s emotions were for good reason. The situation she found herself in was surreal. Airport personnel recommended they get a room somewhere as soon as possible before they were all gone. That far from home, hearing the devastating news about New York, Washington and Pennsylvania; that car rentals were scarce; hotel rooms were scarce and that they had to vacate the airport right away was a bit overwhelming. But, even with the chaos, she was calm even more so than I. They were fortunate to secure a room at the Hilton in Oak Lawn but with so much going on and finding out the conference had just been cancelled until November, they decided to cancel their room and attempt to come home. Fortunately they were able to book the last two seats that were available on Amtrak. God opened a door and she and the lady she was traveling with would be coming back home. That sweet little cry of life the day she was born was so beautiful but her grown up voice on September 11th was heaven sent and an answer to prayer. Thank you God!
As Americans in shock we bonded even more that day. We worried about our loved ones and we worried about each other. We worried about our cities and our towns. We worried about our nation. Together we shared the dark painful hours, days, weeks, months and years remembering the families that lost their loved ones over a hateful act of vengeance against a country, the U. S. of A., that reaches out to help others across our world.
Early this past week as I thought about the memory of September 11, 2001, I remembered how scared I was for our daughter that day and for our nation too…then I remembered how safe I felt knowing we had the United States Armed Forces to back us up, defend us and take whatever measures necessary to protect us.
We have countless heroes to thank for that day: policemen, fire fighters, emergency medical personnel and our military too who stood ready to do whatever asked to prevent further attacks. That day they waited with baited breath (just like always) to defend our country, our freedoms and our American way of life. And the majority of veterans I meet and talk to even to this day who are older, some with ambulatory problems, hearing, sight and a host of serious medical problems love our country enough to do it again…if they could.
That day changed us forever. Let us never forget the uniqueness of our nations spirit, let us never forget the sacrifices made on behalf of our country and those who have stood for America for years and years and years.
Thank you for reading GIG LINE. Thank you too for writing to me. I enjoy your emails and they touch my life. If you aren’t a veteran, get involved in supporting and helping our veterans in every way possible. Write to me at [email protected] . In the meantime, be safe, be happy and be proud and stay tuned….