I try to keep my blog a positive and happy place, but this is one of those things that I would be remiss if I didn’t pay tribute to those who lost their lives and had their lives changed forever that fateful day.
In 2001, both Ross and I worked at the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg, PA. Ross’ office was literally under the Capitol Dome. My office was in the building directly next to the Capitol. Our day started at 9 a.m.
I had barely made it to my desk when Ross called saying he had heard that a “small plane” had hit the World Trade Center. I turned on my computer and saw a small picture on the internet. I went to a coworker’s office and one man became panicked. He had cousins that worked in the building. He began to try calling anyone who might know where his family was. The rest of us tried to find more information on the internet as no one had access to a TV or radio.
The sad thing was, our work internet had never been so taxed. You could only access part of a page about once every time you pressed refresh. Each one of us took a different news source. It was horrible to know that something so terrifying was happening and not have access to information. Soon after one of the bosses put the sound from ABC news on the PA system…
Soon the Pentagon was hit. We knew we were under attack. We were sitting in the most identifiable, iconic government building in the state. It also sits atop a hill.
Soon afterwards we were told by security that we needed to evacuate the building. I tried to call Ross…it took more than 10 tries to get through even though his office wasn’t very far away. We agreed to meet in the parking garage under the Capitol. I said goodbye to my coworkers and went the car.
When I got there, Ross wasn’t there. I wondered why it was taking him so long since my office was farther away. I walked back to the elevator banks to go up to the main floor and a friend of mine came down the stairs in nearly a run.
“RUN! You have to get out! Security said there is another plane in the air over Pennsylvania and it’s heading for the Capitol!” I went from concerned to panicked in less than a second. I had to find Ross…I started pounding on the elevator buttons and my friend screamed, “Don’t use the elevator, you don’t want to get trapped!” as she hurried to her car.
Looking back, I believe that this must have been Flight 93 which went down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
I ran up the three flights of stairs to the main floor. I couldn’t find Ross. I called his office, his cellphone and his pager and got no answer. By this point the Capitol was a ghost town. I finally found him, calm as a cucumber. He had gathered his work to take home so he could work from home if we were not able to go back the next day.
As we left Harrisburg, it looked so desolate. I don’t know if we saw a dozen cars on the way home. The entire place had to have emptied out in a matter of minutes.
In a blink of an eye, the world changed.
A year later, I participated in the Rolling Requiem at the Capitol, a performance of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Requiem” that would begin in every time zone at 8:46 a.m., the time when the first plane had struck the first tower.
Performing the piece was very healing. The opening line translated from the original Latin is, “Grant them eternal rest, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine on them”.
It’s a day that can never be forgotten. Last year, Ross and I went to see the Lakewood BlueClaws fight for the South Atlantic League Championship. Lakewood is not far from New York City. Many of those lost that horrible day were from New Jersey, some were local to the Lakewood area. The moment of silence before the game was stunning.
So I leave you on this most hallowed of days, with a picture of the flags last year in Lakewood at half staff in memory of those we lost.
I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free,
And I wont forget the ones who died who gave that right to me,
And I gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today,
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land…
God Bless the U.S.A~~~~~~~Lee Greenwood, Proud to be an American