Thursday, September 11, 2008
It was 7:00pm, I had just finished eating dinner and was getting an evening run in on the treadmill before I headed to my 8:00 standing game of hearts. This was how we usually spent the evenings passing the time...a game of cards on the mess decks, some good natured 'ribbing' and talk about what we would do when we saw land again.
You see, I was on 581 feet of floating steel in the middle of the ocean, serving my country as a communications technician. It had been an ordinary day with the usual activities and an even more ordinary evening up until that point - the moment when everything changed. In one swift flash, the alarms sounded and the ship was a flurry of activity as people ran to and from their previous destinations. We all were acutely aware of what had to happen when the alarms sounded despite what we did not know was going on.
In the few minutes it took me to get to where I needed to be, there was little anyone knew, there were more questions than answers at that time. We were told there had been an attack on the world trade center and the reports were still coming in. They would let us know as news was made available. We were shutting down Internet access to limit the users and they would distribute all information as it came in.
There is nothing like being in a pitch black room trying to find your way around. We were blind to everything going on around and left to our imaginations - you can bet the worst we could imagine had already been addressed and was expanding. Not knowing how bad it was, but knowing something was very, very wrong because of what we were being expected to do out there was a very scary feeling.
Three days passed and during that time all we had were written accounts of what had happened and what was happening. Pictures were limited, video footage was none - security in our area of operation was heightened and things were changing drastically. Finally, we received a video tape of the news footage that had been recorded from another ship at the time and it was broadcast over the internal system. I can still remember sitting there, glued to the tv, much like I imagine many others were when it happened. As each incredible image flashed on the screen the realizations were made that things would never be the same again.
It's been 7 years since that time and yet, today the memory is just as fresh as it was yesterday. I don't imagine many people will ever forget that day or the feelings they felt. Life changes in the blink of an eye, little moments affect us and change us just as much as the big moments in our lives - for me, I realized just how important it is to say I love you to those who matter to me and that the human spirit is an amazing thing when we all bond together and lay our differences aside.
September 11 - God bless us all!